Catching criminals from the comfort of the dorm
By Joshua Henreckson | Contributor
Spare time can be hard to come by at Taylor. For an introvert like me, the daily routine on campus can often feel like walking a tightrope between academic and social commitments. And sleep? Forget about it.
So what happens when you also need to fit a job into the mix? Most students turn to on-campus employment, but I’ve taken a different approach.
For the past three and a half years, I’ve worked for a company called Next Wave Security Solutions. If you don’t own a fast food restaurant, you’ve probably never heard of it. Next Wave monitors security footage from fast food chains like Burger King and Hardee’s to prevent employee theft.
From the outside, fast food drive-thru service might seem very mechanical and streamlined, but many restaurants are full of human error. Sometimes this is accidental, but occasionally employees intentionally leverage these loopholes to drain cash out of the system and into their pockets.
All of these restaurants have security recordings of each food order they fill, but most of the time this potential evidence goes to waste. That’s where I come in.
Next Wave hired me as a remote employee, which means I’m usually wrapped in a blanket on my bed and sipping tea while I work. I’m assigned a handful of restaurants each week, and I can log in at any time to review their footage. Thankfully, a computer program highlights clips of any suspicious orders, such as refunds or orders where customers receive free food from unusual discounts. Using these recordings, I can get a good sense of what’s happened over the last week in about two hours.
You might think that watching security footage for several hours would become mind-numbingly boring. To some extent, you’d be right. Fortunately, though, strange situations often pop up to make the job interesting for me.
My biggest bust came just a few months into the job, at a burger fast food chain. Half the team was in on the scam, including several managers and at least a half dozen employees. Each day they stole hundreds of dollars, collected the cash, and handed it out the drive through window in paper bags at night.
Every once in a while, I’d find myself watching squabbles between employees and customers forced to wait longer than usual. Generally they would only exchange harsh words, which I couldn’t hear because the security footage doesn’t record sound. Sometimes, customers would snap and throw drinks and cold fries back through the product window. Once a customer followed this up by trying to punch an employee.
Working for Next Wave has been an unusual but rewarding experience. And while I don’t know if I’ll ever get a full night of sleep at Taylor, the job has helped me walk the tightrope better than I could have otherwise.