How to prevent employee theft

Theft by employees can be a major source of frustration and profit loss for business operators. Close to two thirds of all businesses experience employee theft at various times, but only around half ever report it to the police. Retailers, wholesalers and warehouse operators are especially vulnerable.

Typically individual acts of theft are modest in scale – targeting easily concealable items or small amounts of cash. But if repeated often enough, it won’t take long for small losses to turn into big ones. Operating a large site like a commercial warehouse will only amplify your susceptibility to this problem.

Read on for our tips on employee theft prevention.

Employ the latest commercial CCTV technology

Modern commercial CCTV systems provide two key benefits to businesses operating in sectors vulnerable to employee theft: they enable them to track the comings and goings of staff members at particular times and thereby quickly identify those who may be acting suspiciously. But they also act as a significant deterrent to theft in the first place.

To achieve this second end you will need to ensure the cameras are visible and that there is a general awareness of the CCTV systems across the company. This can be a delicate balancing act for smaller firms: awareness deters but too great a sense of being under surveillance may make employees feel stressed and distrusted, especially if they have a personal relationship with the managers or the CEO.

But for larger operations with hundreds of employees, there is unlikely to be any practical alternative to impersonal, company-wide security systems when it comes to stock protection and loss prevention.

Expand your systems

There may be areas within your premises that are more sensitive than others – cash or especially valuable stock storage areas for example. It makes sense to limit who has access to these: in most cases these will be employees with special levels of responsibility. Access control systems provide a practical means to secure such areas – via, for example, swipe cards and unique access codes.

Alternatively, why not employ the latest innovations and integrate facial recognition into your CCTV? Limiting access to sensitive areas via such cutting edge tech is a highly secure option and one increasingly favoured by smartphone manufacturers.

Another security technology which can be closely integrated into modern CCTV systems is RFID. Radio-frequency identification tags are widely deployed in the retail and warehousing sectors as an inventory tracking system, allowing companies to continuously monitor the movement of goods through their systems. Integration with CCTV systems takes this one step further, offering the ability to view the location of particular stock items in real time on your security cameras: an option with clear security benefits.

Be aware

Keep your ears to the ground. Conduct appropriate background checks during the hiring process. Make sure you and other senior managers are aware of any developing situations as soon as they cross your radar. Don’t let mounting losses catch you unawares.

Involve a selection of your employees in your stock protection concerns. Explain the problems with shrinkage and stock loss and make helping to reduce these part of their role. They may have more awareness than you of events behind the scenes – you are, after all, the boss – and so prove valuable allies in the battle against employee theft.

Dan Bradding
Written by Dan Bradding

Dan is a systems integration specialist and Director at Ace Fire and Security.