From Randy's Book "The Key to Keys"

True Story 1

One of my larger clients in Seattle was the owner of a Class ‘A’ commercial high-rise. It was a beautiful building with some pretty big name tenants. One of those tenants, at the time, was one of the largest U.S. banks. They occupied more than 80% of the building. The building was 42 stories and 900+ thousand square feet. It has a public plaza and several restaurants. There were also extremely secure floors, which required access through electronic turn-styles (those had just come out). We had separate uniformed security people monitoring the ingress and egress (which was quite a job, especially during the lunch hour). My company was providing ~1,400 hpw (hours per week) or 35 full-time security officers to that building. Our on-site Security Director was responsible for overseeing a 24x7 fire/life safety control room; visitor office, lobby console, loading dock access and foot patrol rovers.

It was a Sunday evening when I got the call. The Control Room officer had radioed one of the patrol rovers to the lobby to accompany a tenant that had left her office keys on her desk when she went on a dinner break. The Rover met the tenant and proceeded to the tenant floor. When they arrived at the office, the Rover reached to his side to unclip his key ring from his belt loop, he felt nothing – his keys were not there.

A supervisor was called and quickly responded to let the tenant into her office. The Rover and supervisor then spent the next 30 minutes retracing the Rover’s steps. Based on the Rover’s activity report, we could see that the last time he used his keys was three hours earlier. It was a weekend shift so things were a bit quiet, because the majority of the building was closed to the public. In that three-hour time span, the Rover had covered a lot of area; 8 levels of parking, the public plaza, the employees’ lunch room, the lobby and almost 20 floors end-to-end. The Rover keys have everything on them; access cards, office masters (hard keys), utility closet/mechanical room keys, you name it. It was the Rover’s job to respond to any area and be prepared to grant access if required.

In this case, the Rover had a separate key holder in his blazer pocket that held his primary access card. He still had that in his pocket. It was the full Rover key ring that was missing. By this time, everyone was looking for the keys. I sent Field Supervisors to the building who helped search. By about the 1-hour mark and no luck finding the key ring, I had no other choice but to call my client and tell her what has happened. Due to the risk of those keys getting into the wrong hands and the fact that a large banking institution (credit card transactions were being processed on several of the floors) could be breached, time was of the essence.

My client, Anne, was a Property Manager for an international commercial real estate company that owned the building. I can’t repeat what she said after I told her a set of master keys were missing. We agreed to meet at the building right away. Anne’s next step was to make a plan to notify her tenants. Mine was to get additional security personnel to the property so we could secure the building’s perimeter. We needed to do this in case someone had found or stolen the keys and then tried to gain access to the building’s many restricted areas.

For the next several hours, we were in a panic. Notifications were being made and the hunt went on but the keys could not be found. It was decided that the building had to be rekeyed immediately. The security risk was too high to wait any longer. Anne’s Engineering department called in a locksmith so a new lock & key map could be built, the exterior perimeter rekeyed, as well as the “secure floors”. The entire building rekey took 2 weeks and cost over $80,000. Guess who had to pay for the rekey? My company. You may be saying, ‘Yeah, but Randy, that’s why you have insurance.’ Yes, but my company was self-insured for the first $250k. This is $80k that we will never see again and that amount did not include the extra security officers (many demanding time and a half) I had to add to the building during the rekey process…oh and I had to pay Anne for all of the engineering overtime and extra staff she had to put in place. All told, my final cost was in excess of $100,000.

Okay, Ready for it?

Two weeks after the rekey, we found the keys. They were on top of a soda machine in the break room, right where the Rover had left them. How we missed them after all that searching still haunts me to this day. But even if the keys were found a day or two later, we would have no idea if the keys had been taken, duplicated and put back where they were found – to eliminate this risk, the building would still would have had to be rekeyed.

Are you ready for it, again?

My client, Anne? I married her two years later! No, it had nothing to do with the fact that I could have lost that $1MM/year account...I mean, hardly anything to do with it. J