Safeguard your Business to Reduce Shoplifting and Employee Theft

Posted: September 11, 2023
Category: Spotlight on Business

Organized retail crimes are hot topics of conversation for businesses, politicians, and consumers. The victims of these brazen thefts are typically big box retailers or high-end luxury stores. However, small and medium-sized companies are also experiencing significant losses due to thefts and burglaries. Business.Org reports that 89 percent of small business owners cited shoplifting as a problem eroding bottom-line profits. Employee theft can also take a toll on businesses if the issue is not addressed correctly. Statistics indicate most businesses lose five percent of their revenue due to employees stealing from the company.

  • Taking Products and merchandise
  • Removing cash from the register
  • Collecting worker’s comp based on false injuries.
  • Shipping and billing scams or forging receipts
  • Charging personal expenses to a business account

While it’s virtually impossible to stop every shoplifter or thief who is determined to steal, there are several everyday things that business owners can do to lower their risk of being victimized.

Install an Alarm System and Closed-Circuit Television Cameras
People engaged in criminal activity are often deterred by alarm systems and video surveillance systems since businesses that lack this security equipment are easier targets. These devices can help you closely monitor internal and external threats on the premises or off-site during non-business hours. Alarm systems are not costly and can be customized to individual businesses. Purchasing systems operated remotely by smartphones, personal computers, or tablets is best.

It’s critical to optimize the effectiveness of surveillance cameras by placing them in strategic locations throughout the store to identify the faces of customers and employees. Video footage should be stored off-site for security purposes. Since legal and privacy issues are involved when installing cameras, inform employees about them and let everyone know why they are installed. There are areas within the company where cameras should not be permitted, and privacy be maintained, such as restrooms, employee breakrooms, and other areas that require privacy.

Check Entry Points to the Building
Doing the simplest things can prevent thefts, which are crimes of opportunity. Burglars look for unlocked doors, open windows, and keys left in the vehicle’s ignition. Store owners should make it a daily ritual for employees to check every entry point at the close of business. Ensure that all vehicles are securely locked and that the keys are in the possession of the person assigned to the vehicle.

Pay Close Attention to the Building’s Exterior
Check for areas around the building where someone can hide from view. Tall bushes look attractive, but they are ideal cover for criminal activities and make it easy to hide from police patrols. Be sure outside areas are well-lit and motion detectors are placed in corners and other dark places.

Curb Employee Thefts
An investigative report by CBS News indicates about 33 percent of employees commit some type of workplace theft. It may be surprising that 75 percent of workers steal from employers more than once. The harsh reality is employers should expect some form of theft, whether it’s done without thinking or intentionally. Employee theft can be difficult to detect depending on the method used since the perpetrator is usually caught when someone notices minor discrepancies or a significant loss. Employers can do a few things for their operations to be less susceptible to internal checks.

Perform background checks on new employees and contractors
It’s essential to conduct a background check on new employees and contractors who will serve as the support team for your business. Over time, employees may move into trusted positions that require managing money and gaining access to confidential information. So, it’s best to gain insight about the person before they join the team. Making a smart hiring decision initially can prevent problems later.

Provide Employees with a Written Theft Policy
Employees should receive and sign a written theft policy upon joining the company and receive a copy annually. This document will inform employees of what constitutes employee theft and how the company will handle the situation. Be sure the language is precise rather than vague to prevent anyone from misinterpreting the consequences of stealing.

Limit the Number of Keys Dispensed
Only a few trusted employees should receive keys to the business. The more people with a key, the greater the opportunity for theft. Companies should invest in an access control panel with personalized fobs to control access by certain individuals to specific areas of the operation. Keep close track of every key and ensure every key you issue is returned by every employee when they leave the company.

Theft and criminal activity are so prevalent that retailers who fail to use security measures to prevent theft are jeopardizing their businesses. Anti-theft technology is being upgraded or developed every day since thieves are constantly looking for cracks in your security that enable them to take what you have built. It’s up to business owners to prevent that from happening.