Having trust in your employees is important in the workplace. However, there is always the occasional employee that breaks this trust and resorts to theft. When a theft does occur, it can be difficult to determine the culprit. You cannot be everywhere at once, making it essential to have theft prevention strategies in place. Installing a surveillance system in your building can be a highly effective way to detect theft.
Common Types Of Employee Theft
Employee theft is not limited to just stealing cash from the register. It can occur in several ways and impacts the financial security of a business. Businesses lose an estimated $50 billion in employee theft each year. In addition to losing money and assets, companies affected by employee theft also face potential reputation damage and legal troubles. Theft of cash is one of the most common types of employee theft. This occurs when an employee steals money from a register, safe or petty cash drawer, by overcharging a customer and pocketing the difference, or by skimming. Skimming is a form of theft that occurs when the employee takes cash for an unregistered sale.
Another common type of employee theft is inventory theft. This occurs when an employee steals a product from their employer. Some employees are also found guilty of data theft. Examples of data theft include stealing customer or contact lists, stealing an employer’s trade secrets, or stealing the personally identifiable information of a client or other employee. Theft of services is another type of employee theft that occurs when employees misuse company services or defraud the business. Payroll theft can also happen when an employee writes fictitious checks and then cashes them.
Factors Which Increase Theft Likelihood
Employees choose to steal for a wide range of reasons. Some common factors that increase theft likelihood include:
- Opportunity – If the opportunity presents itself, an employee may steal. An employee may feel like the consequences set in place by the employer for theft are minimal, or they may believe they will never get caught.
- Rationalization – Some employees try to rationalize their poor behavior when stealing. They may feel like their employer has wronged them somehow or must steal for an important reason.
- Pressure – Pressure from friends, family, or co-workers could result in theft in the workplace. Temptations arise when an employee feels pressured to steal for whatever reason.
- Capability – Every employee has the capability to steal. However, certain employees are more likely to steal than others. That is why it is crucial to check an employee’s criminal history before hiring.
Red Flags To Look For
Employee theft can be challenging to spot, especially if the theft is small or only happens occasionally. Overlooking theft can happen when you can’t keep an eye on every employee, all day long. However, there are red flags that could indicate that a theft has occurred. Some common red flags to be aware of include the following:
- False or incomplete customer information
- A high number of voided or altered sales transactions
- Sales reports that do not match the shipping documents
- Unexplained inventory shortages
- Lack of documents that prove inventory write-offs
- Observation of suspicious or unexplained staff behavior.
If you have discovered these or other red flags in your business, it is important not to neglect the problem. Theft within your company typically does not end with a one-time event. An employee who isn’t caught early on will likely continue to steal. This can not only result in lost money for your business but also tarnish your company’s reputation and make your business appear weak or unprofessional.
Install Surveillance To Keep Apprised
While you cannot always anticipate employee theft, you can protect your business from these types of security events. One of the best ways to help catch employees in the act is by having a professional surveillance system in place. Employee monitoring is not just an excellent tool for finding employee thefts but can also encourage workers to be more productive and perform better. Workplace surveillance can also help prevent data theft, track intrusion, and detect the suspicious activities of employees and visitors. Live footage and playback capabilities make it possible to catch thefts in the act or to playback the footage to look at past incidents.
Video surveillance systems can help protect both employees and employers by keeping an eye on the building and the people in it. If you want to learn how to detect employee theft best, or are interested in having a surveillance system installed in your building, reach out to the security experts at APG today.