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WHAT WE LEARNED FROM BEING BURGLED

The title pretty much says it all.

Earlier this year, on the night of July 12th, a few people broke into the CODO office and made off with around $10,000 worth of equipment. They took everything a design firm needs to run—3 iMacs, a huge flat screen TV, Wacom tablets and various office accoutrements. What followed was a whirlwind month of putting everything back together while continuing to handle client work and dealing with a surge of new business. It was rocky internally, but we’re proud to say that our clients didn’t feel a single hiccup along the way. In fact, one even told us he wouldn’t have known we were hit had we not filled him in.

So here we are, four months after “the event” and we’re finally back up to speed. Our equipment’s been replaced, the office is shored up tighter than a bank vault and we’ve been able to reflect on the entire ordeal. We thought that rather than letting this experience go to waste, it’d be fun to share some insights we’ve gleaned, or major takeaways, should you or your business ever find yourself burgled.

Police won’t actually investigate something unless there’s blood everywhere. We were expecting a squad of curt, well-dressed detectives to descend upon our office the following day. Maybe a fresh-from-the-academy loose cannon and his buttoned-up, analytic (and sexy?) partner. Nope.

Our police report reads [sic]:

“I RECEIVED A RADIO RUN TO 1500 N DELAWARE STREET REFERENCE A BREAK-IN/MOTION DETECTOR ALARM AT THAT LOCATION. UPON MY ARRIVAL I LOCATED A BROKEN BASEMENT WINDOW. UNABLE TO LOCATE KEY HOLDER AT THIS TIME.”

And that’s it. The police officer showed up, noticed that a window was broken, typed this finding into his computer, and left. No prints were taken, no fancy detective work happened, just a quick once-over and then on his way. We’re not complaining too much since they probably have dozens of these calls a night, but man, it was shocking how little police work actually occurred.

For a period after a break-in, you’ll completely lose your mind. You recount the hundreds of faces that’ve been through your office the last year. The thousands of people that walk by on the street become looming criminal specters; old ladies walking their dogs, guys mowing lawns, sad people astride mopeds. You even start to suspect each other. Our intern—Ryan—started shortly before this happened, which caused Isaac to grow a Serpico beard and conduct not-so-subtle interrogations every day for a month. Luckily Ryan stuck it out, and we’ve only recently exonerated him.

Everyone wishes you well, while at the same time telling you that statistically, you’ll be robbed again. Thanks. Apparently, the type of asshole who’ll loot your office will wait for you to replace your property and strike again. We briefly looked into buying a Robocop, but this proved cost prohibitive.

The second you buy something, its value is halved. After wading through years of receipts, we were able to submit our insurance claim for review. And then came the slap in the face that a year-old 27″ iMac is only valued at $500. All of these prices are based on this shady marketplace called ‘Insurers World.’ If you want a good idea of what Insurers World is, picture a weird amusement park where snow cones cost $80 a piece and you get fucked on every ride. Basically, IW price fixes anything that can be sold at a lower-than-market rate, which the adjustor uses to value your stolen property. Though you can find the item for purchase at a higher value elsewhere, the insurance company won’t match that price, instead using Insurers World’s “market-tested” rate. So nice, it’s like being robbed twice!

Have a positive outlook no matter what happens in life. When we first got that call on Saturday morning, our heads were spinning. There’s the inevitable talk of going out of business, there’s worry over handling current work and deadlines, and there’s the horrible feeling of violation that takes a long time to dissipate. We had to keep reminding ourselves that everything would be fine. We were insured, our files were backed up, and no one was hurt—just put your head down and keep working.

In fact, after that immediate I’m-gonna-vomit feeling passed, we even considered using this as a marketing ploy. “Oh man, we’ve been robbed, ‘Like’ if you feel sad for us, ‘Share’ if you were involved!” This was quickly dismissed as a stupid idea, I mean, what kind of crass, narcissistic people would use the misfortune of a burglary to shamelessly promote themselves on a blog? The very idea of it makes us sick.

Back up your files. It sounds obvious, but if we didn’t have up-to-date back-ups of our work, we might very well have gone out of business. And at the very least, our transition back to normalcy would have taken much longer.

The final takeaway is somewhat of an earnest one; if you’re surrounded by good, level-headed people, you can weather any problem life throws at you. We came in on Saturday, screwed the broken window frame shut and immediately got to work. And we were in on Sunday. And we were in on Monday and we gave one hell of a presentation that afternoon. And then weeks and months passed by and we came out stronger (if not considerably more paranoid) than before. While this experience isn’t for everyone, a burglary can prove to be a pretty damn effective team building exercise.

Ryan, we’re still on to you.