Small Business Brief

Safety & Loss Prevention

Maybe You Should Take Back Your Keys: An Inside Look at Internal Theft

Did you know employee theft costs businesses $50 billion per year? Despite this, many businesses don’t have any systems in place to stop internal theft.

Safeguarding against internal theft should be a top priority for any company. This article outlines some of the warning signs of employee theft and also describes how to protect your business against it.

How Internal Theft Happens

There are various ways internal theft can occur.

In many cases, an employee may adjust the prices on customers’ receipts and then take a portion of the cash. They might even go so far as to create forged receipts for non-existent purchases.

Some employee theft is much less sophisticated. They might simply steal company products, either to sell or to use personally.

In more extreme cases, an employee might even try to create a fake payout for an employee that doesn’t even exist. This is a serious crime and can result in jail time. You can read more about bail bonds through Alamo City Bail Bonds.

Know the Warning Signs

While some internal theft is incredibly sophisticated, the majority of it usually isn’t. If you know the warning signs, you should be able to spot when someone’s stealing from your company.

An employee who has a drug or alcohol addiction is likely to steal from the company in order to fund their habit. If you suspect an employee has started abusing drugs or alcohol, you should be on the lookout for any signs of theft.

You should also be wary of any employees who exhibit a sudden change in lifestyle or spending habits. For example, someone might start wearing more expensive clothes all of a sudden.

Keep an Eye Out for Patterns

There are also some suspicious patterns of behavior in the workplace that you should be aware of. For example, you might notice a particular employee frequently volunteers to work alone.

They might also work odd hours, stay later than their shifts should end, or they might start coming in early.

You might also notice that an employee is ordering an excessive amount of supplies. Of course, none of these factors on their own confirm that an employee is stealing.

If you do notice any of these warning signs, you should be vigilant. But you shouldn’t accuse anyone of stealing outright without gathering additional evidence first.

Screen Your Employees

One of the best ways to avoid internal theft is to hire the right people. The majority of people are honest and will not steal from the company. Those that do steal are likely to have done it before.

Whenever you hire someone, you should conduct a background check. If a potential employee has a criminal record, you probably shouldn’t consider putting them in a position where they can steal from you.

You should also make sure you follow up on any references.

People who steal from their employer often get the job by putting fake positions on their resume. Someone who lies on their resume probably isn’t someone you want to trust in a sensitive position.

You should also consider administering a drug test before you hire someone. If someone is a drug abuser, the chances of them stealing from you are reasonably higher.

Don’t Have a Lone Employee Work Culture

Do your workers often work alone?

If someone’s manning a cash register on their own, they have the perfect opportunity to create fake receipts and transactions.

On the other hand, if there are always two people working at once, the chance of someone stealing from the register goes down significantly. If two people are working and one is honest, but one is a thief, the thief is probably not going to try and steal.

Having your employees work in twos at all times isn’t just good for preventing internal theft. It can also help to prevent accidents and mistakes from happening.

Have a Good Relationship With Your Employees

Many employees who steal feel like they work for a company that doesn’t care about them. If the company doesn’t care about them, why should they care about the company?

When you focus on building a good relationship with every employee, the chance of theft goes down significantly.

Not only are people less likely to steal if you have a good relationship with your employees, but people are also more likely to report any theft they see.

Have a Solid Organization Structure

A lot of internal theft is opportunistic. People don’t necessarily start working for a company with the sole intention of stealing, but if the chance presents itself, they might choose to take advantage of the situation.

When your company has a loose structure, it creates the perfect environment for stealing.

But if you have a company structure in which everyone is held accountable, people are less likely to try to steal, as they know they won’t get away with it. If someone order supplies, for example, there should be no confusion as to who placed the order.

Have Surveillance

There’s a better chance of people behaving themselves when they think they’re being watched. Installing surveillance systems is a great way to discourage theft from both your employees and customers.

If you have cameras installed, you’ll be able to review the footage to confirm that someone was, in fact, stealing from you.

Get Your Employees Involved

You should have a good system in place for your employees to report theft or security issues. Sometimes, people are more likely to report things if no one will know it was them.

Having an anonymous system for reporting theft might help you to learn about theft that would otherwise have gone unreported.

Improve Your Company

Not only will taking the steps listed here help you to stop internal theft, but it can also help to improve your company as a whole.

When you tighten up your organizational structure and form good relationships with your employees, you make your business harder to steal from. You also make it a better and more efficient place to work.

Want to keep customers coming back? Here are some useful tips!