Business crime prevention advice: Employee theft

Business crime prevention advice: Employee theft

Studies show that staff often steal more profit than 'customers'. There are a number of theoretical assumptions that may explain why employees steal.

"I needed (wanted) it ... I was only borrowing it ... the boss is making loads of money ... I'm not paid what I'm worth ... I was owed money."

The biggest deterrent to employee theft is the creation of a culture of honesty among employees. Such a culture is more likely to engender good rapport between staff and management.

To create a culture of honesty

  • Implement strict hiring practices using pre-employment screening checks.
  • Introduce policies to prevent theft of your stock - it is THEFT not shrinkage - and discuss these with employees. Impress upon them how important it is for the business to prevent stock loss.
  • Train your staff in the correct way to do things. Make it clear that a position of low tolerance will be taken if procedures are not followed.
  • Make staff aware that they have a shared responsibility to reduce theft from the store. This will help reduce customer (and employee) theft.
  • Make it clear that ALL thieves will be prosecuted, whether they are employees or customers.
  • Let staff know that colleagues who steal from the business are also capable of raiding workmates' bags, coats and lockers.
  • Hold regular meetings with staff and give them regular reports on the business's performance - in particular any shrinkage or unaccounted losses.
  • Provide a means for employees to report illegal or suspicious behaviour.
  • Keep accurate cash flow records, stock balances, stores and equipment levels.
  • Use an independent auditor regularly and at irregular times.
  • Limit access to computerised records, the safe, keys and alarm codes.
  • Consider changing locks and access codes if an employee is asked to leave their job through misconduct etc.
  • Keep workers happy and content in their work. This will reduce the retribution factor in internal theft/fraud.
  • Take swift action when internal theft is discovered. Send the message to your staff that theft will not be tolerated.