My SA disaster: 'All our computers had been kidnapped'

Thief housebreaker in a room
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Susan Rahman
KWSR
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Following last week's self assessment nightmares, small practice owner Susan Rahman shares her own tax return horror story.

According to recent divorce statistics 42% of marriages in England and Wales ends in divorce. I often wonder how these stats would change if accountancy partnerships were added into the mix. I would have happily divorced my business partners every year for 15 years because every year without fail we would argue about when to start preparing for the tax season.

I always argued that we should prepare and submit the self assessment returns as we go along and start in April. My partners argued that the staff would become unproductive and so we should start in September. Being in a minority of one against four I always lost this argument until 2004.

Every year our tax team would start preparing over 400 self assessments in September and by November about one third would be ready to send, another third partially prepared and the last third completely blank.

That all changed on the 10 November 2004 – a day I will never forget. We all piled into the office kitchen as usual, standing around the boiling kettle getting ready for the day. Armed with coffees, teas, and toast, walking into the main office something looked very odd.

At first, we could not put our finger on what looked so strange and then slowly it dawned on us – all our computers and monitors were gone, rudely ripped out the walls, plug points hanging like loose teeth. We rushed from room to room to see if all our computers had been kidnapped and alas everything was taken. Everything.

The only saving grace was that our server was still standing and we had off-site back up. The computers were replaced within five days and it took the best part of three weeks to rebuild the computer system and get up and running. We were ready to resume work exactly a month later on the 10th December.

On the night of the 10th December we were broken into again. In the time that it took the police to come to our offices, the rodents had managed to completely take all computers, servers, printers and our hard drive back up. They even had time to take a bottle of water and drink half the contents leaving their DNA on the bottle.

This time the insurance company was not so sympathetic and the replacements were not so fast coming. We resorted to the staff working on laptops and taking them home every night. We did complete our target but it meant staff working all throughout the Christmas holidays and the best part of 18 hours a day.

Needless to say the following year there were no arguments as to when we should start preparing the self assessment returns – a very expensive way to get my own way!

About Susan Rahman

Susan Rahman

Susan Rahman, FCA, Managing Partner, runs KWSR, a thriving firm in South West London and she has put together a a secret diary she calls ‘Growing Pains’ about surviving running an accountancy business and sometimes, even enjoying it. In the diary, Susan looks at the day-to-day challenges facing a busy accountant and sets herself a target of a race to finish and submit (and maybe to get paid) all her client's tax returns by the 24th December 2018. 

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21st Jan 2019 17:45

What changes did you make to your security after the break-in?

Because if you made no changes after the thieves had been able to steal all your computers, I could understand the lack of sympathy from your insurers.

Thanks (1)
By DJKL
24th Jan 2019 13:28

Smart move by the thieves, steal all the older kit, wait until you replace it with new replacement kit, steal all the brand new kit.

Thanks (1)
28th Jan 2019 16:10

Inside job?

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