Quit Stalling About Employee Theft

Every day I see news articles about employee theft. That does not even cover a fraction of the employee theft occurring both know or unknown. The fact is that approximately 45% of a Retailer’s losses are due to employees stealing. We focus so heavily on shoplifting that many times a Retailer misses the boat completely. Do not misinterpret what I am saying, shoplifting is responsible for about 35 percent of a Retailer’s losses. Which is also huge.

However, employees have access to your cash, supplies, and merchandise. Employees are generally trusted until they show us that they are not. Which may be too late! Many Retailers I have discussed this with over the years tell me that they trust their employees and treat them well. Therefore they would not steal from them. Those are the folks that have the worst losses and the biggest shock when it does happen. As human beings, we do not want to believe that someone would steal from us. We also are quick to turn a blind eye to the evidence even when it hits us in the head. We simply do not want to believe it.  

Another factor is that many Retailers do not know, understand and are afraid to do something. Will we make a mistake? Would we accuse someone of something they did not do? What civil and criminal consequences do we face? And the list goes on. This is yet another stalling factor for not doing anything. 

Quit stalling about employee theft. You face every other retail problem head on why not this. Educate yourself. We can help you with this. Make sure you know the signals of employee theft. Yes, employees who steal, act differently than other employees. You simply need to know what to listen and watch for. Do you “audit” your operation? For example, an audit can be as simple as making sure the Point-Of-Sale balances every day and if it does not, find out why. I have seen many Owners and Managers that say if the drawer is short $5 or less, they do not look into it because “it is not worth my time”, REALLY??? THAT IS SO WRONG and dangerous!!!! First by having a policy like this you are telling everyone that stealing $4.99 and below is okay. $4.99 times 365 days a year is a loss of $1,821.35. Oh, and that kind of theft WILL lead to larger and more frequent employee theft. 

Over my career, I have investigated, interrogated and put in jail somewhere north of 2300 employees for theft. The vast majority of those employees that were stealing did it for the same reasons. Many still stole even those the boss was “good to them”. I have seen employees that had been loaned large amounts of money by their employer, employees that were being put through school by their employer steal with no regret except for being caught. 

We can train you to spot employee theft and what to do about it when you suspect and find it. It is not hard to do. We can show you how to “test” employees to see if they are stealing. We can help you build the confidence to be on the offense, not the defense.  Your good employees will not care or suffer. In fact, they will help you. You just need to know how to proceed. 

Would you knowingly buy a car that had major engine and transmission problems? Probably not. So why would you hire someone with a criminal record? Why would you not find out that they have problems with violence, theft, drugs and worse when it is so simple, fast and cost-effective to do so? We can help you with that also. We conduct pre-employment screening, drug testing and more, nationwide. Look at it this way, you interview, select, employ, train, invest in an employee just to find out the hard way that they are very familiar with employee theft? When a pre-employment screening costs $20 how can you afford not to. Drug testing is also very inexpensive. You can quickly, cheaply and easily have a pre-employment drug testing done on all of your employment candidates when you offer them the position. Again, we conduct pre-employment screening and drug testing nationwide. 

You control every other aspect of your business, why would you not take more control of employee theft? Contact us today or call toll free 1-866-914-2567. 

Building Structure And Design To Discourage Theft

When stores are put together it is usually designed with appearance and functionality in mind. What you may not have thought about is how the structure and layout of a store might be helpful in discouraging shoplifting and other crimes. Have you ever paid attention to the gas station store layouts? Often the cashier island is in the center of the building and raised higher than the rest of the store. Low fixtures allow almost complete visibility of all areas of the store. It may not seem too important but if you have worked in Loss Prevention you know that this is an intentional design that helps reduce theft. By placing the employees higher they can see over customer’s heads and view what is happening in more parts of the store. Shorter gondola shelving may hamper how much merchandise can be displayed but by the same token visibility is enhanced. Those hiding places that shoplifters tend to congregate to become much harder to find.  

     It is important for store owners to keep theft in mind as they are planning how they are going to design their stores. Here are some additional ideas that you can consider as you build a store or perhaps redesign an existing one: 

  • Corral areas where high theft items are stocked. Corralling is the use of gondolas and cash register stands to create an enclosed department. There is only one way in and out and that requires passing the register. This design gives the managers a lot of control over the area and makes theft much more difficult. The drawback to a corralled department is that an employee has to always be dedicated to the department. That means it becomes a payroll expense. Many large chains that were utilizing this concept have moved away from it due in part to the cost of running it. It also ties down an employee who could otherwise help in other areas. 
  • Bright lighting throughout the store is important. Criminals seek shadows and darkness to cover their activity especially dark corners. Make these areas uninviting to crooks. Ensure you have lighting that hits every part of the store. This should include your stockrooms as well. Shoplifters are not the only criminals that will take advantage of your building, dishonest employees will too. 
  • For fire exit doors ensure the egress bars are set up with delays. Frequently shoplifters will fill up a shopping cart or bag with merchandise and hit a fire door with a getaway car parked right outside. A thief doesn’t want anything that will delay their exit from a building. A delay on a fire exit doesn’t have to be a long one but it does activate the door alarm when the egress bar is pushed. This alerts employees that a fire door is about to open and if someone is nearby they can respond to it quickly. A sign is required to be placed on the door or the bar alerting people that the door does have a delay. This can discourage many potential grab and run shoplifting incidents. 
  • Bollards or decorative barriers such as cement planters set up at the edge of the sidewalk outside of the front door(s) are an important feature. The use of such barriers discourage a vehicle being from driven through the entrance in a crash and run theft. 
  • Electronic article surveillance towers at all entrance and exit doors are a powerful deterrent to theft. Shoplifters become aware that anti-theft measures are in place as soon as they walk into the store. Using towers at employee accessible doors discourages associates from stealing from the workplace. A word of caution, don’t set up dummy towers and think you will achieve the same results. Criminals will figure out what is going on. Use Sensormatic equipment and Sensormatic tags and labels to get the real protection your store needs. 
  • Have counterfeit bill scanners and cash drop boxes at each register. Cashiers can scan all $20, $50 and $100 bills to prevent fraud. The drop box is used to remove the threat potential of short change artists, till tappers and even robberies. 
  • Finally, though they may seem expensive a few strategically placed cameras and Public View monitors can aid your managers in moving thieves out of hard to see locations.  

Store design has a direct influence on theft and crime. Putting barriers up that will hinder crime and eliminating those obstacles that prevent your team from seeing your customers can improve the security of your building. Remove crime and you make your store safer while also making a positive impact on profits.                                                

Lighten Your Load With Applicant Management Center

National retail chain stores often rely on a management team to handle all of the daily operations of a business. These positions vary from company to company but depending on the size and sales volume of that retailer there are different managers to oversee diverse functions. There may be soft lines and hardlines department managers, a freight manager, Human Resource Manager and a store manager. Some stores might only have a sales floor manager, freight manager, and a store manager who also functions as the human resources manager. For an independent business owner, these sub-managers might be a luxury that is not affordable to them. That means it is up to the store manager to oversee all store functions and if an employee calls out that may be one more job the manager fills for a day. This takes me back to an old saying I have heard, “Work smarter, not harder”. It is not possible for a store owner or a single manager to effectively perform all of the tasks associated with running a store every single day. Finding ways to lighten the load and improve efficiency can make life much better for a retail owner.

     One of the areas of business that can take up a significant portion of time is the hiring process and tracking all the paperwork that goes with it. From the Society for Human Resource Management (shrm.org) 2017 Talent Acquisition Benchmarking some statistics related to hiring and recruiting that are pertinent to this topic:

  • 22% of organizations used automated prescreening to review job applicants’ resumes in 2016
  • The average time to fill a position was 36 days in 2016
  • The average cost- per- hire was $4,425 in 2016
  • Employees within their first year of employment accounted for 26% of all separations
  • Position responsible for recruiting applicants for nonexecutive openings: HR Generalist 48%, in-house recruiter 25%, Hiring Manager 16%, Third-Party recruiter/staffing agency 3%, Other 8%
  • Selection Techniques Used to Assess Candidates (non-exempt ( hourly) Nonmanagement), references 65%, phone screening 65%, one-on-one interview 68%, In-person screening 50%, structured interview 32%

As we look closer at these statistics it is important to note 89% of recruiting for nonexecutive openings is conducted by a Human Resources Manager, Hiring Manager or In-House Recruiter. Bigger retail stores may be able to afford a position to conduct this workload but in your case, that obligation falls to you. Now take that workload and consider that 26% of separations from your company are likely to happen within an employee’s first year AND it takes 36 days on average to fill that position. Over 1/12th of your year is tied up with extra work associated with an open position for just 1 vacancy. This is not taking into account the time you will spend training the new employee when you do get them hired.  In your hiring process, you are going to contact references, phone screen with an applicant, conduct a one-on-one interview and there may well be some type of structured interview. Don’t forget you will still be running the store as you go through this process. It only makes sense that an alternative resource has to be out there that can ease this burden.

      Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. offers just such a solution with the Applicant Management Center. This system allows you to post job ads and applicants can apply for them 24/7. Rather than having to comb through stacks of applications you have the ability to set up screening questions that will eliminate many unqualified applicants, saving you valuable time. Not only will unqualified candidates be weeded out of your hiring pool, you also cut down on the time you spend interviewing applicants who don’t meet your minimum job requirements. It is important to recognize that if you can get the right people on your team in the first place you are unlikely to lose them within that 1-year window. That means not spending time hiring, not spending $4,425 hiring and not spending hours training a new employee. There is a myriad of benefits when managers are using the Applicant Management System.

     One final thought to share. Turnover can have a dramatic impact on a business as can drug use and prior criminal history that often lead to employee theft issues and losses leading to turnover. The Applicant Management System provides the ability to initiate drug screening and background checks which helps managers protect their stores from undesirable employees. In turn, owners improve retail shrinkage, cash losses, store safety and profits. Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. can lighten your workload and improve profits all with the help of the Applicant Management System.  Work smarter, not harder.


Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll

I actually like and believe in all three of these things. When it comes to drugs they have to be the legal kind. All of us have seen the destruction that illegally used drugs cause. In a business environment, illegal drug use by an employee not only has an impact on their work performance but creates serious customer and legal issues for employers. An employee that is under the influence of any substance that influences their ability to do their job correctly or safely, will cause customers to question who they are doing business with.

If this employee drives for their employer and is involved in an accident, even if it is not their fault, then liability could come back to the company. That one is easy to understand. But what about the recent changes in the law regarding marijuana? Some States have relaxed or legalized its use. However, it is still against Federal Law… EVERYWHERE. I do not agree with these changes. Not because I am a former Law Enforcement Officer that has seen firsthand the impact on society but because it is simply wrong.

The biggest argument I hear is “well alcohol is legal. Marijuana is no different”. Sorry to say yes it is. The active ingredient in marijuana is THC. THC stays in the bloodstream for up to two weeks after it has been ingested. Alcohol leaves the bloodstream within hours of consumption. The person may not be high but the “drug” is still there.

Now that same person comes to work. They have not ingested any marijuana for let’s say a week. Now they are involved in a customer accident. This could be dropping something on a customer from a shelf, hurting a customer with the use of a forklift, pallet jack or motor vehicle, or any other poor judgment that results in injury. If it is discovered as a result of testimony, blood test…. that the employee had THC in their bloodstream….. Surprise, you as the business owner could now be liable.

As a Loss Prevention Manager, I was involved in an accidental death case in one of my stores. Picture a building materials type store. Lumber, hardware, carpet, nuts, bolts…. A forklift operator was moving two full bundles of lumber and had them up on the lift about ten feet off the ground. At that moment a man and his very young son walked underneath the load. One of the forks on the lift gave way and an entire load of lumber landed on them. It killed them both instantly. There was not a piece left of either of those human beings thicker than three inches.

When OSHA, Fire/Rescue, Law Enforcement and a whole bunch of other government folks arrived on the scene, it was quickly determined that there was a defect in the fork that broke. This defect occurred during the manufacturing process. That defect was not caught as it should have been. So liability rested squarely on the forklift manufacturer. However, as required by law, our employee was drug tested immediately. His test came back positive for THC/marijuana. This caused the liability to shift to my company. All because this employee had smoked marijuana the weekend before.

So you may be thinking this can’t happen to me. I own a small boutique, grocery store, clothing store….. Yes, it can and could happen at any time. Why risk it? The commonly accepted practice is an employment drug test. Screen out potential liability and poor performers. A drug test should be required as a part of the pre-employment process, no exceptions. It is a simple and painless process. Contact us today, we can set your drug screening program up, make it very cost effective and make it simple for you and your candidate. You can reach us toll-free at 1-866-914-2567.


The Advantages of Hiring and Training Good Employees

A study done by the University of California at Berkley found that hiring a new employee costs an approximate $4,000 dollars per employee and in hiring for higher positions-professionals and management level employees-the figure increases to $7,000. If you are a small business, then the figure increases per every new employee you are trying to hire.  If you are a small business that offers other benefits to their employees, the cost increases considerably.  The importance of hiring quality employees, or training the employees you already have, are an economic advantage many businesses cannot pass.  Hiring and training new employees is expensive, why not do it right the first time? Background checks, and recommendations from other employers are not something you can take lightly.  Checked them before you hire, and it would likely paid dividends.

For more about this and other stories, follow the links below.


Loss Prevention Management Must Focus on Quality Recruitment and Retention

Loss prevention management has the power to improve understanding, morale, and workplace inclusion.

Let’s face it—the bottom line to any corporate organization is the profit margin. However, those in executive loss prevention management should always be mindful that quality of service drives the margin. Factors that lead to high-quality service are often the result of well-retained employees. Specifically, all management levels need to be mindful of what policies work, what don’t work, and what looks promising.

Recruitment and Training

Think back to when you first joined your company. What was your initial impression of the first few people you met when you went in for the initial interview? Do you remember their general attitude about the company?

Chances are that your initial impression was positive. Perhaps this is why you stayed. Do you think the same attitudes are being conveyed to new recruits today? If not, you might consider those colleagues who left the company. What was it about their experiences that differed from yours, that made them leave?


The Square Alliance met this morning to discuss ways to combat the increase in shoplifting in the hub of Oxford’s shopping. Business owners had a Q&A with OPD investigator Chris Case about how to prevent shoplifting and deal with those who are caught in the act.

Case provided tips in shoplifting prevention such as a more visible security system, keeping an eye out for suspicious activity and more. Business owners voiced their opinions and discussed certain tricks and trends that they’ve noticed shoplifters using to attempt to steal merchandise. Case mentioned that shoplifters will usually work in pairs rather than alone to attempt to distract workers while they commit the crime.

A heavy importance was placed on figuring out how to deal with shoplifters when they are caught in the act to find the balance of ensuring security but not overstepping the boundaries. Businesses and workers have the ability to recover stolen merchandise and keep the violator in the store until the authorities arrive, as long as they have probable cause. It is also unlawful to lock them in a small space such as a closet or use force.


Wal-Mart has a unique way to cut down on shoplifting

Wal-Mart has taken the law into its own hands. 

No, the company has not started its own jail, and any employee who wears a cape and fights crime must still do so on his own time. Instead, the retail chain has taken a new approach to fighting shoplifting that requires less involvement from the police. The retailer has been using a “restorative justice” program in 1,500 of its stores, according to The Gainesville Sun. That’s a program in which people deemed low-risk, first-time offenders are given the choice of paying to take an anti-shoplifting course rather than facing arrest and prosecution.

The effort is in its early days, but the results have been good so far. The company has seen a 35% reduction in calls to law enforcement nationwide since restorative justice programs were first implemented, Wal-Mart spokesman Ragan Dickens told The Sun in an email.

“No retailer is immune to the challenge of crime. We recognize the importance of this issue at the highest levels of the company, and we are investing in people and technology to support our stores,” he wrote, noting that police are not being cut out of the loop.