Internal theft also known as employee theft causes close to fifty percent of all retail business loss. In thirty years of conducting employee theft investigations I am still shocked by how poor a job most businesses do in common sense prevention. For example I conducted an investigation where $5000 in forged business checks were cashed. It turned out that the stock of checks was unsecure in an office supply room. The janitor’s stole 20 checks from the middle of the stack, waited a while and them began to cash them. These checks should have been secured in a locked cabinet with strict controlled access. The checks should be logged out and issued to the person that processes them.

We drop our guard because it is “more difficult” to do it the right way. You prevent employee theft by doing it the “right way” not the easy way. The key is “prevention”. Another excuse is we say, “oh I trust that person, they would never do that”. Those words get more business people in trouble. When a management person says that they are basically saying that they have no business common sense.

Another case involved employees that stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in product from a warehouse they worked in. They had keys to the warehouse that contained millions of dollars of merchandise. The alarm system was not reporting opens and closes. So coming back at night and loading up a truck was not a problem.

Internal theft or employee theft lurks around every corner. You have to be actively watching for it to prevent it. Internal theft will not go away or stop on its own. In fact it will get worse. Get your policy manual off the shelf, dust it off, update it and make sure people understand that this is your companies “business bible”, live it, enforce it! This doesn’t mean that it never changes. As your business changes your policy and procedures should change.

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