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. 

Benefits of a Loss Prevention System

Most retailers in the United States end their fiscal year on December 31st. and begin the New year with a new budget, new goals, and new strategies to implement in their business.  

For the loss prevention team or management of the store, allocating sufficient funds to the prevention of shoplifting and security of their store begins anew.  If a store has not purchase a loss prevention system and the losses of the store are too many to ignore, the new year allows them to budget and purchase a system that will help them minimize their losses and prevent them from happening in the future.

Research has shown the budget for the prevention of shoplifting and loss prevention teams have been declining over the years with no plans to change it, while the problems associated with shoplifting, employee theft, internal clerical issues and lost merchandise continue to grow.  Every retail store has different problems associated with them, but shoplifting is a problem that is common for every one of them. 

Allocating enough funds to the prevention of theft in your store is vital. According to research purchasing a loss prevention system to help you minimize the losses in your store will return your investment within months. Reduction in merchandise losses, increase productivity, personnel reduction, and an increase in sales are some of the benefits associated with the purchase of a loss prevention system that will see more profits going to you.

Finding out what kind of loss prevention system your store requires will need the help of a seller that understands systems, training and prices. 

An EAS system can give the store an up to the minute understanding of what merchandise is in the store, what items have been sold, and what merchandise is missing. These systems can let you know up to the minute information about your store without having to do a physical count every time you need to know something about a specific item.  With an EAS or a point-of-sale (POS) system, information about the merchandise in your store is within your grasp within minutes.

Investing in technology that can help your management and loss prevention teams work effectively while minimizing cost will help your store succeed.  These systems not only offer help in deterring shoplifting but help you meet the needs of customers and their shopping habits.

Preventing shoplifting in your store with a loss prevention system is key to your success.

Tips On Merchandise Placement To Satisfy BOTH Sales And LP

Do you want to know one of the fastest ways to make a Loss Prevention Manager cringe? Place high dollar merchandise within a few feet of your entrance/exit doors. Another great idea is to stack out a pallet of 32 inch LCD televisions for that Black Friday door buster with no protective devices on them because you know how fast they are going to go out the door (the L.P. Manager knows how fast too but from a different perspective). Frequently store managers want to put merchandise on display near the front of the store where customers are certain to see the items and entice them with an impulse buy. The downside to the strategy is that it creates a major opportunity for crooks to sneak merchandise out quickly without being noticed. They wait for a group of people to enter or leave, pick up the merchandise and blend in with the crowd then exit with the goods. I’ve seen it happen.

     On the other side of the fence you have Loss Prevention Managers out there who want to lock up everything. They aren’t thinking about what drives sales or impacts the shopping habits of customers. Their concern is that the merchandise is placed in such a way that it can’t be stolen. I’ve been one of those managers and I thought I had the best interests of the store in mind as I sought to keep valuable new displays on a tight leash. Keep the merchandise in the store and out of the hands of criminals and you save stock shortage. Doesn’t THAT drive sales for the store? Customers can’t purchase what has been stolen. Keep those goods in the store and sales will soar because paying customers can get their hands on it.

     There has to be a happy place where security and availability can meet. Merchants and Loss Prevention can find a common ground but they need to work together to do it. Having learned my own lessons over time I would like to share some ideas that can be beneficial to store sales objectives without creating a security risk to merchandise.

  • Coming from many years in Loss Prevention I want to first say to the Loss Prevention department; remember that the number one priority of the store is to SELL merchandise. Your job is to help do that and this means being a partner and understanding WHY a manager may want to place a product in a particular place. You should take a look at what the manager wants to do and offer constructive suggestions that can decrease the chances of merchandise theft without being an obstacle to the decision.
  • Before any new planograms are set or merchandise displays are placed, managers meet with L.P. and discuss what you are planning. L.P. may have suggestions to help make merchandise secure without compromising the desire to put merchandise in the hands of the consumers. There may be electronic article surveillance tags or labels that can be applied to merchandise.
  • If the merchandise is to be located close to the front of the store put it in a location near a cash register. Keeping products within the line of sight of employees is one way to deter theft.
  • Keep track of product quantities. This means several times a day taking a count of the pieces of merchandise on a display and tracking sales of those items. If you start to identify a theft trend then re-evaluate your merchandise protection strategy.
  • Don’t use locking display cases! Unless the item has a very high dollar price point there are alternatives available to stores to secure merchandise. There are security boxes and cases on the market that allow shoppers to pick up and handle goods without being able to actually touch the item.  These cases (such as a Sensormatic flexible safer for example) prevent shoplifting while allowing a customer to select an item and continue shopping (customers don’t like to wait for help at a display case).
  • If your store has closed circuit television then consider placing a camera and a monitor as a public view set-up. It discourages theft when people see that they are on camera.

New product displays attract customer attention and increase sales. When Loss Prevention and Store Management work together on these projects sales will be successful. Let’s not forget that shortage due to theft will also be minimized if not eliminated and THAT makes EVERYONE happy!


Tips That I Wish I Had Learned Before Entering Loss Prevention      

Loss Prevention is a wonderful career choice that can lead to other positions in retail. There are, however tips I wish I had known before I began the job that would have prepared me for the adventure I was about to embark on. I started out in a Loss Prevention Associate position after spending four years as a U.S. Air Force Law Enforcement Specialist and another 2 ½ years earning a Bachelor’s Degree.  I was offered the position and to be honest I went into it with the mindset that this was a Law Enforcement position in civilian clothing. There was nothing that really dissuaded me from the notion as I was taught to catch shoplifters, use closed circuit television cameras and electronic article surveillance equipment. I assisted with employee theft cases but these were few and far between. It was not until later when I had been a Loss Prevention Manager for several years before I started to understand the real role of Loss Prevention in a store. With this is mind there are some things that I would like share with those entering the profession that can be eye opening and prepare them for the job ahead.

  • You are not the retail police – Unfortunately it is easy to fall into the trap of believing you are an arm of the police department. You aren’t. You can and should build strong partnerships with police but you are not protecting the community. Your job is to make your store profitable. You need to learn about stock shortage and all of the ways it happens. Yes, you need to learn to identify, prevent and maybe catch shoplifters. You also need to add to that knowledge how employee theft occurs, how to identify it and investigate it. You also need to understand vendor processes, how to read invoices and credits. You should spend time learning and stocking freight and where operational shortage takes place. Become intimately familiar with cashiering procedures and cash office functions. Each of these areas of responsibility impact store profits and the more you know the better you become at multiple areas of the store.
  • Hiring and Supervision – You may only be starting as a Loss Prevention Associate but if you are smart you will partner with the hiring manager. Ask to be part of the store application review process. Learn to look for the red flags on a candidate’s application or resume that could spell trouble if that person is hired. You can be a valuable partner in helping in the hiring process. As a Loss Prevention Manager you will review applications, resumes and conduct the interviews. You will need to know your company’s hiring process and whether it includes a drug test or background check. While we are discussing it lets also talk about who you decide to hire. Hire people with skill sets that are different from yours. While I would not discourage you from hiring someone with Loss Prevention experience be mindful that that candidate may be more difficult to train. They will bring along training from other retailers that may not be in keeping with your store best practices.
  • Trainer and Leader – Get ready to train others and not just Loss Prevention personnel. You will be training store associates on electronic article surveillance alarm response. You will train cashiers on till tap and short change artist prevention. You will train employees on robbery procedures. You may work with the stock team on how to identify mis-shipped merchandise. Show them how improper stocking affects shortage and inaccurate merchandise reordering. You could be required to conduct new hire orientations. You will also instill in the whole team the importance of customer service as a means of reducing theft but also how it drives sales. As a leader you will request appointments to meet with other managers and discuss operational matters. The more informed you are in how things work the better prepared you can be to help improve operational procedures.

Clearly there is much more that a Loss Prevention professional can add to the store than just being a person who catches shoplifters.

     The core roles and responsibilities of the Loss Prevention team entail the reduction of retail shrinkage and even maintaining a safe shopping environment. You may not be a first responder but you could be the first person called to an accident inside or outside the store. Frequently it is the Loss Prevention personnel who are first called to find a lost car, lost child or stolen purse. You will be the one who has to calm an irate customer. Learn from these tips I am sharing. You aren’t going to be a police officer, you are going to be a Retail Loss Prevention Professional and that is a quite a job! 


Merchandise Audits For Stores Without A Loss Prevention Team

Loss Prevention Managers and Associates use audits on a regular basis to keep track of merchandise that may be potentially high theft items. The items may be high dollar such as iPods, laptops, computer tablets and so on. The products being audited may simply be easy to steal and resell. Such items can include a variety of products ranging from drill bits to medicines, razor blades and even fragrances. Audits are an effective tool for Loss Prevention departments to quickly identify theft trends and to begin investigating when and how losses are taking place. For stores that cannot afford a Loss Prevention department, it falls upon store owners and managers to investigate missing merchandise. The question then becomes, how does a management team decide what items should be audited or when audits should take place?

There are different types of audits that Loss Prevention teams conduct. Some audits are completed during inventory nights. The purpose of these audits is to ensure an inventory crew is accurate in the counting of your merchandise. Mis-counts lead to inaccurate results and skewed shortage numbers. An errant finger while keying in numbers can make your inventory too high. Counting too few items results in shortage neither of which is a good thing. A falsely low inventory result usually translates to a high shrink result the following year. It is also wise to audit locations to be sure endcaps, sidecaps, and special dump bins are counted. Think of the easy to miss locations in a store.

How do you decide what should be audited? On inventory nights the inventory team crew leader may print up sheets of “suspicious” counts or “exceptions”. Usually, that team completes some of their own audits but stores should have their own audits as well. If exception sheets are not printed by an inventory team stores can decide what areas or items they want to spot check. Usually, these are going to be sections that have small items (for example, cosmetics) where it would be easy for a counter to miss multiple items that can add up to big dollars. High dollar merchandise is another area to focus on, say for instance television sets, computers or some models of vacuum cleaners. Clothing may include leather jackets and designer dresses, popular targets among thieves. One thing to keep in mind during inventories is that inventory crews are not going to want to be pestered over every little discrepancy. Usually, it is requested that only variances greater than $25 or more than 10 pieces be recounted.

The other type of audits we are discussing usually focus on specific items (SKU’s) or categories of items, for example, denim jeans valued at $30 or greater. In order to make sure that audits are value-added there needs to be a determining factor that instigates the audit and that audits are not being done on every single item in a store. Putting too many items on an audit form will ensure they do not get done properly or regularly and that renders them useless.

Daily Loss Prevention audits are usually based on suspicious activity or a reasonable concern that a certain product will be targeted by shoplifters. In one department store I worked for, we started carrying a new line of leather coats. Due to the dollar value of these jackets, we started an audit form for these items and counted them every morning. Because we had a camera set on them we were able to review a days-worth of video in a short time if a count was off. In another store I worked for, we started to see vacuum cleaners of a specific brand start to disappear. We began daily audits and partnered with other retailers that also carried this brand. We found that ours was not an isolated problem and through audits, we were able to get several suspects on camera. The key is to follow up as soon as an audit finds a difference in what store inventory says should be on hand and what actual on-hands are. If a store-generated on hand report is not available, the current count would be compared to the prior day count. Discrepancies would be researched from receipt journals and if no item was sold, the video would be reviewed.

Audits are not difficult and can aid in reducing theft and shrinkage. Keep audit lists short to help make them impactful. Use cameras to record those items you suspect are being stolen or believe are going to be a high theft SKU. Track the time as well as the day the audit is completed to narrow the window to review on video if an item is missing. You don’t have to be in L.P. to conduct audits in your store.


     

     

Employee Dishonesty Is Not Always Easy To Identify

I recently read an article entitled “How to spot a liar in your inbox” by Vanessa Van Edwards. The article discussed the nuances of how to tell if someone is lying to you in an email. The writer made some interesting observations on the lack of personal pronouns in the body of an email, inconsistency in tense usage and vague language. It dawned on me that often this is the same thing supervisors handle on a regular basis with employees. Think back to a phone call you have taken from an employee calling out of work. Often the conversation goes something like this, “I don’t feel well, I think I am going to have to call out today.” The employee is using language that does not make sense. They “think” they have to call out. Either they do or they don’t have to call out, the decision is theirs to make. Saying “I think” sounds more like asking permission to call out than making a decision of their own. Avoiding responsibility is one way an employee may try to lie without feeling guilty about it.

Another method of avoiding responsibility especially when something has gone wrong is to avoid using “I”. In these situations, a person will often use “we” or “they” to transfer blame away from themselves. I recall a department manager that worked for me and I would ask about why our team was not done with their tasks by a certain timeline. This manager never took responsibility for the pace of the team or their failure to get the job done when the timelines were not met. Rather than have an honest discussion about where his focus had been or what impacted the workflow this manager would say “they weren’t moving quickly” or “there were small boxes and it took longer than “we” thought it would. There was no “we” it was his responsibility but by not using “I” he was trying to shift the blame. My conversations with him were about “MY” expectations and prior discussions “I” had conducted with him (not to mention the discussions I had with my boss). It is not comfortable to have to confront a situation but the only way to effectively deal with a problem is to own what is yours to own and find solutions to a problem. Deflection, avoidance, and excuses never fix anything.

In my role as a Loss Prevention Manager, I frequently encountered situations of people lying to me. Until the futility of their lies became obvious to them many shoplifters would try to shift blame or avoid responsibility for their actions. My friends made me do it or dared me to do it was a great example of this. Catching a dishonest employee and conducting an interview with him/her over their crime was another opportunity to catch someone lying. Rarely would someone admit to what they had done and rarer still was the person who would take outright ownership of their criminal activity. “I don’t know what you are talking about.” was an immediate response to being confronted about theft. It usually took a lot of effort to get to where someone would admit to what they had done. Sometimes the person has to have the facts placed before them to get them to acknowledge wrong-doing.

You may not be dealing with employee theft but you will certainly have to confront employees about incomplete or unsatisfactory assignments and projects. There will also be those times when you have customer service issues that you have to handle. If you do not have the confidence that your employees will be honest with you it may require you to be able to distinguish fact from fiction. Sometimes a manager owns some responsibility when an employee lies to them. The lie is not right but if the manager has made himself unapproachable or is overly critical and harsh in discussing opportunities it becomes understandable. Who wants to talk to a supervisor about a problem they are having if the impression is that they are going to get raked over the coals if they do something wrong? The environment of a workplace can make a difference in the actions of the employees.

Make sure you have an open door policy and are genuinely interested in your employees. If they are going to be deceitful with you make sure you have not contributed to the problem. Then make sure you can recognize some of the signals that someone is attempting to deceive you. The ability to identify deceitful workers can make identifying and dealing with workplace problems much easier for you in the long run.


     

Theft And Fraud Can Bankrupt A Business; Contact Us For Training Seminars That Will Help You Reduce Shortage And Remain Profitable

 According to the Jack L. Hayes Annual Retail Theft Survey, released June 2016:

  • 1,170,056 shoplifters were apprehended in 2015 resulting in over $150 million recovered from apprehended shoplifters
  • 75,947 dishonest employees were apprehended in 2015 resulting in over $55 million in recoveries
  • One out of every 38 employees was apprehended for theft from their employers in 2015.

This survey was based on information from 25 large retail companies with 21,228 stores and over $700 billion in retail sales (2015). Combine this with information from the 2015 Global Retail Theft Barometer (GRTB) Report that placed shrinkage in North America at 1.27% or $36.79 billion dollars (pg. 50) and you have some scary statistical data if you are a small business owner. The 2015 GRTB also reported that shoplifting was the cause of 36% of retail shrink and dishonest employees were responsible for 45% of shortage (pg. 53). According to statisticbrain.com 37.5% of employees have stolen from their employer at least twice. The same website reports 33% of all business bankruptcies are the result of employee theft. THAT is a lot of theft! What is an employer supposed to do? If the 25 large companies surveyed by Jack L. Hayes are being impacted like this and they have access to Loss Prevention resources, how can a smaller retailer prevent this kind of theft? Is there a way for small to medium stores to address theft and fraud, reduce shrinkage and improve profitability?

     The answer to the question is yes, there is a way for small businesses to reduce shrinkage due to shoplifting and employee theft. Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. has training seminars available that will provide information on various forms of employee theft and the real impact they have on a business. The seminars don’t simply instruct on how the activity occurs but also on how it can be prevented. Additional seminars are available on shoplifting and the methods you can use to protect your merchandise and your profits. How do you detect shoplifters? Do they all act the same? Should you approach them and attempt to get your merchandise back? All of these questions will be answered by Bill Bregar, President of Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. 

     Bill’s extensive background in Law Enforcement and Loss Prevention gives him the expertise to ensure you and your staff receive solid training that can make an immediate impact on shortage reduction in your store(s). Bill’s career in investigations began when he served in the U.S. Army as a Military Policeman and in the U.S. Army Reserve as a Military Intelligence Officer. He worked for 2 years as a Police Officer for Central City Colorado. Bill has held positions of increasing responsibilities starting as a Security Manager for a grocery store chain, advancing to two different Regional Loss Prevention Manager positions, working as a Director of Loss Prevention for two different companies before becoming the President of Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. Bill’s professional competencies include being an “Expert Witness,” a Licensed Private Investigator in the State of Georgia and a Private Detective and Security Agency Training Instructor since 1998. Bill also holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Private Security Administration & Management from Metropolitan State College, Denver, Colorado. Finally, as someone who has conducted over 2300 employee theft investigations, Bill has the proven field experience that is a testimony to his ability to speak on issues of retail theft and fraud.

        If you want your business to be successful you have to ensure you are prepared to address all areas of shrinkage, especially those areas that impact you the most, employee theft and shoplifting. Ignoring these factors or trying to manage them without the proper knowledge and training is a recipe for disaster and you may find your store(s) in that 33% that declares bankruptcy due to employee theft. Contact Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. and schedule your training seminars with one of the premier experts in the industry today. 

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.