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How To Counteract Employee Theft

employee theft

Employee theft is an unfortunate occurrence that every business owner should be concerned about. Typically, employees who steal are those who have been working for the business for several years before they start to perform this illegal activity. Three years is the average amount of time that this goes on before the person is caught, meaning a lot of goods or other property can be taken in this time. This misdeed can take many forms (see below), however, there are steps you can take in order to prevent it from happening – or at least reduce the chances.

What Is Employee Theft?

Some examples of employee theft that occur are:

  • Larceny (theft of personal property)
  • Fraudulent expenses (inflated expense reports, check tampering)
  • Misuse of raw materials or business inventory
  • Stealing business opportunities (customer lists, business secrets)

What Can Be Done About It?

  1. Use Surveillance

    Surveillance cameras will ensure that all areas – especially those that are hard to see – are covered. This will allow you to look back on footage to discover if theft has occurred, and by whom. This footage can be used in court as evidence. Additionally, access to this footage is easy: available on your computer, tablet or even mobile phone, ensuring that no matter where you are, you are able to keep an eye on things.

  2. Hire An Undercover Officer

    If you already suspect someone in the business of stealing, you may want to hire a professional to collect information on the suspected person to determine if your suspicions were correct. Having the security professional not in uniform will make this task easier to do.

  3. Install Access Control Measures

    By installing access cards and card readers on the doors on the interior and exterior of the building, you will be able to see who has entered which room and when. The unique data on the employees’ access cards allows the security system to record who was the last person to enter a specific area of the building.

  4. Be Aware Of Your Employees

    Watch out for suspicious behavior. This may be activities such as sudden devotion to work or staying late, substance abuse or addiction such as gambling, lifestyles that cannot be sustained by the employee’s salary, and repeated borrowing are potential signs that someone might be stealing.

  5. Keep Track Of The Inventory

    It is important that the business conducts annual inventories of stock and by people who are not responsible for inventory records.

  6. Encourage Employees To Report Theft

    However, this must be done with care – you do not want to suggest that you do not have trust in your employees; rather that the business appreciates openness and honesty.

Be Careful

Making accusations or conducting investigations that turn out to be unfounded or false can result in a lawsuit against you. If the issue is large or complicated, it is strongly recommended that you seek legal advice from professionals who can help with finding further experts (for example, forensic accountants). Employee theft is an unfortunate reality that business owners need to deal with, but must be done with tact and precaution.


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