Honor Amongst Thieves- Employee Theft
We all know the story of Robin Hood and how he stole from the rich to give to the poor. He made his intentions very clear. He was taking back what rightfully belonged to the impoverished and mistreated people. He would never have stolen from his best mates, his family, or the lovely Maid Marian, as he was stealing back only what was owed to the people. He did not steal out of greed or desire. Robin Hood epitomized the ideal of honor amongst thieves.
Employee theft, from the eyes of the employees, is often regarded as a similar honorable action. Most employees who steal do not do so purely out of greed or desire. Even more employees would be insulted if asked if they would steal from a coworker. There is a certain detachment and justification that an employee mentally has when they steal from their employer.
The most common excuse an employee gives for why they steal is “because they owe me”. It is closely followed by “I am having financial hardship”. In both scenarios, the employee has justified why it is now ok to steal from their employer, when they would not even consider stealing from a co-worker.
The company is a larger entity. It is easier to dehumanize, where a co-worker is a name and a face and a personality. There is a lack of honor in stealing from someone personally. There is a different amount of honor retained if the victim is not a specific person, but rather the “company” or the “store”.
There are some people out there who have no qualms about stealing from their coworkers- especially when it comes to something valuable, or potentially untraceable such as cash. As such, it is important to provide your employees with a secure area to keep their belongings while they are on the clock working for you.
These theft incidents are fewer and less severe than the losses employees create when they steal cash or merchandise from their place of employment. The average admission to employee theft is well over a thousand dollars. When left undetected, it is not uncommon for an employee to be guilty of stealing tens of thousands of dollars over the course of a several year employment.
That is the key right there. Employees who steal typically do not get away with a theft once and then never do it again. Employees will continue to steal. They will refine their methods; they will increase in both frequency and dollar amount taken. Employees typically will only stop stealing from your business if one of two things happen; they quit, or they get noticed. The chance that an employee who is siphoning off several hundred or thousands of dollars in undetected compensation is very unlikely to want to leave the scheme they have set up.
That means it is up to the store to detect what is going on. Since the employee stealing is probably not going to steal from a coworker, you might not get that glaring red flag that something is going on. The employee will do their best to fly under the radar and take only what they feel like they are owed to them- the modern day Robin Hood.
For more information on employee theft, employee theft investigation or internal theft contact us or call 1.770.426.0547 – Atlanta Georgia
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