Bowling ‘Didn’t Think About’ Risk In Confronting Robotoki Burglar

The front door of Robotoki’s Los Angeles studio Thursday morning, after two men broke the security glass in a burglary attempt Wednesday night.

When Robert Bowling ran to stop the man who had just broken through the glass door of Robotoki‘s office Wednesday night, he wasn’t thinking about risks to his personal safety.

“All I was thinking about was that time and money that we’ve put into building the studio from scratch,” the Robotoki studio head told Game Front in an interview Thursday morning. “The sound of security glass breaking, it is extremely loud, and it rains down … so from the top of the stairs, what it sounded like was somebody literally trashing the entire lobby. When you get down there and realize and see all they did was kick through a door, you’re kind of relieved.

“I didn’t really think too much about, you know, consequences or the amount of people in there or whether they were armed. It was really just like, ‘Stop breaking my shit.’”

Bowling thwarted the burglary a little after 7 p.m., when two men used a rock to break the glass door and one climbed through the hole into the lobby of Robotoki’s Los Angeles studio. On seeing Bowling, the intruder turned and left, and Bowling called Los Angeles police.

The break-in was captured on Robotoki’s lobby security camera, which Bowling later posted on his Instagram account. You can see the video of the entire incident here.

“It was just me and our lead FX artist (David Schoneveld) chatting about stuff, and that’s when we heard the first rock hit the door,” Bowling said. “We headed for the stairs, and he stopped at the top, and I just kept barreling down.

“That’s the point when I confronted him (the thief who had entered the lobby) and yelled a lot of obscenities. He just about-faced and went right back out the hole he created. I just blocked the door and started calling the cops.”

Lt. Robert Davis of the Los Angeles Police Departmet confirmed that officers responded to the “commercial burglary” at Robotoki, but otherwise had no information on hand about the incident.

Bowling began the work day Thursday by gathering the team to talk about what happened and how the studio can try to prevent something similar from occurring in the future, he said.

“I thought it was important at 10 a.m. this morning, as soon as everybody got in, to hold a security meeting to talk about any concerns people have and steps we’re going to be taking in the future, and I think that helped a lot,” Bowling said.

The most notable move Robotoki will make is to hire an after-hours security guard, Bowling said, who will be posted in the lobby area. He also said that the fact the incident didn’t result in any notable harm to staff or property, as well as the amusing video of him running at the burglars and scaring them off, helped keep studio morale from dipping much.

And while heightening studio security will come with a budget increase, Bowling said the expense — he estimated it would cost the studio more than $10,000 over a year — is absolutely worth it.

“That is exciting and humorous in hindsight, but security for our employees is paramount,” he said. “Security for the production of the game (Human Element) and all this stuff, even though we have redundant backups, anything like someone coming in and trashing our servers is going to delay production of the game.”

Sherman Oaks, the Los Angeles neighborhood in which Robotoki is located, is a statistically high-end area, and Bowling said the break-in isn’t making him worry about the spot on which he planted his studio.

“Crime happens anywhere,” he said. “It really is just desire plus opportunity. I think the one downside we have is our entrance is in an alley, rather than facing Ventura (Boulevard). If we were facing Ventura, it’s probably not an issue at all, because there’s cars going by, people would see stuff.”

Deputy Editor Phil Hornshaw contributed to this report.

Follow Phil Owen on Twitter at @philrowen

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