Friday, September 30, 2011

Break-in at Our Office Building

When I walked in to our office building at 7:30am on September 13, I couldn’t believe what I saw.

This is a very attractive two-story brick building with lots of glass, located in an upscale business park. But you wouldn’t have guessed it that morning.

Sometime during the night, thieves shattered one of the side glass doors. Apparently they had scoped out the building and realized the security system extended only to the locks. There were no sensors on the glass doors or windows so the alarm did not go off when they broke in.

The robbers proceeded to violently enter the offices of two tenants. Fortunately, we weren’t one of them.

I say “violently” because they took an axe to one of the wooden doors and literally chopped out the area around the lock. With the other office, they used that same axe or another strong instrument to break the glass door.

Expensive new computers and electronic equipment were the apparent targets. The thieves likely cased the building in advance and selected these offices. They both have glass entries so a lot of their equipment is clearly visible to anyone walking by.

Even though my company’s office was spared, I still felt violated.

I immediately recalled the time three years ago when a different thief boldly entered my office while I was in the ladies room and stole my wallet. It felt creepy to know my movements had been watched.

When you’re a law-abiding citizen and play by the rules, it’s more than unsettling to experience the effects of these kinds of criminal behavior.

It’s a violation of basic trust. Not just concern about thieves breaking in, but also questioning the integrity of the owner of our building. Why hadn’t he taken measures to secure the windows and doors since there was so much glass? Why weren't there security cameras inside and outside the building to record movement after hours?

I was reminded how fragile trust is in relationships.

A single act of betrayal can destroy years of trust-building. The building’s glass was shattered in just a few minutes. The effects of lying, cheating or infidelity can be just as instantly devastating, whether it’s a personal or professional relationship.

I think it’s appropriate to feel outrage about robbery and other violent crimes, and I certainly want to see justice done.

But this incident also forced me to take a hard look at my own motives and behavior, to make sure I act with integrity in the way I live my life.

How about you? 
"The toughest thing about the power of trust is that it's very difficult to build and very easy to destroy." - Thomas J. Watson, Sr., American business leader (1874-1956)


  1. Interesting comparison, Meredith. Your point was crystal clear and I will pass this post along with a RT for sure. For those who don't realize the fragility of the strongest relationships and how their behavior/actions can affect the best of them in a split second, this is a real eye-opener. It's time for us all to get back to thinking before we act and to considering the consequences of our actions as well as the benefits, if the latter exists at all. Thank you for your usual spot on insight. Jane/ (sounvelope on Twitter.)

  2. Your choice to see trust as something that is difficult to build, makes it so.
    It's the way we look upon things that gives them the quality we choose to give them.
    @wwwcoach on Twitter

  3. Jane, I'm glad you found this post valuable and thank you for sharing it. The ability to anticipate consequences and adjust behavior accordingly is a key life skill that sadly, many don't learn.

    Erik, I believe it takes time to build trust - to show someone else you're worthy of their confidence. And I've seen how quickly it can be destroyed. It's not just my choice in how I see this. It's how human relationships work. When you violate a trust that's been established, it takes time rebuild it - IF it can be restored at all. Both parties have to be willing to work at it.

  4. Thanks, Meredith. It can be much easier to lose trust than it is to gain it. It's important to always act with integrity, as not doing so can be very counterproductive to the relationships you have spend a lot of time building.

  5. I appreciate your feedback and additional insights, Zachary!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.