Putting a Stop to Stealing

A reader writes…

Hi, Anita:

Employee theft has become a topic of discussion lately at my company, as we are evaluating how to reduce costs and increase profitability. What tips do you have to help prevent and stop theft in the workplace?

Stealing 2Hi, Office Police:

Theft in the workplace costs businesses massive amounts of money every year. A package of pens here or there could seem pretty harmless, right? Wrong. If you start to think that your employees wouldn’t possibly steal from you, well think again.

American Databank estimates that:

  • Employee theft costs U.S. companies over $120 billion a year.
  • 95% of all companies are victims of theft.
  • Only 10% of employee theft is actually discovered.
  • Over 2 million crimes occur in the workplace annually.

These statistics are hard to swallow but are important to keep in mind when deciding to develop a stringent anti-theft policy. Here are my tips to help prevent these problems from even making their way into your workforce.

  • Conduct pre-employment screenings. This includes verifying experience, contacting references, conducting criminal background checks, and administering drug tests. As Stealinghard as it is to believe, up to 40% of information on applications and résumés is falsified or misrepresented. Companies like Select Staffing conduct extensive screenings before placing seekers on assignment with a client.
  • Develop and clearly post your zero-tolerance theft policy. Ensure that all employees are informed of your expectations and the consequences of stealing or ignoring theft by other co-workers.
  • Install surveillance cameras in areas that are prone to theft. These areas could include your supply/stock room, employee break room, parking lots, sales floor, or back office. These alone are a huge deterrent to thievery.
  • Implement several steps of controls and auditing into your standard routine. Have reports created and pulled that evaluate inventory levels and cash inflows/outflows.
  • Have auditors from an independent agency audit and evaluate your financial records.
  • Only hire bonded employees for positions where they will manage company finances and inventories. This will protect your company in the event of loss through the employee’s actions.

Employers and managers, what do you do to prevent theft in your place of business? Have you had to terminate an employee for stealing?

Best wishes,


10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. disgruntled walmart employee
    Aug 01, 2013 @ 02:07:49

    would int be such a problem if people actually got paid a little more for all the crap they put up with



  2. Donad
    Jul 21, 2013 @ 13:30:15

    I have found that excessive inventory levels can be a possible cause for theft. If there are piles and piles of stuff, then some employees may think that “you wouldn’t miss it.”
    I’ve found this to be very true in the restaurant industry.



  3. zarvette
    Jul 10, 2013 @ 13:31:50

    My company has a disclosure you sign up hire. The clothing provided must be returned upon termination. (i.e. scrubs, safety shoes, etc), Pens are plentiful, everyone has more than they need at their desks at any given time. However, this is the first job that I actually wanted to buy my own supplies, like notebooks and file folders, rather than put in a purchase order with the administrative assistant.

    The last company I worked for bought us jackets, coats, shoes, overalls, safety glasses, respirators, notebooks, pens; and they were ours to use, and keep. Safety at home was encouraged just as much as safety at work. “We want you to be able to make it in to work in one piece and leave here in one piece. We do not hear you lost an eye over the weekend because you didn’t have safety glasses at home.”

    It all depends on the bottom line, I guess.



  4. Cola Thornton Walker
    Jul 10, 2013 @ 09:24:22

    Im looking for warehouse/manufacturing already experienced.



  5. tomrosh
    Jul 09, 2013 @ 12:40:15

    Some times organisations develop avenues to promote stealing.
    Create a high dense of employees responsibility. Make the feel part of the ownership process by surprisingly making the accountable or take decisions to their fault s.
    Keep to your own end of your work ethics and create reasonable checks.
    Finally a good check on quality control & Due Process officials or documentation could prove rewarding.



  6. Philip Di Filippo
    Jul 09, 2013 @ 09:45:57

    It would be interesting to see what types of supplies constitute that $120 billion. I had a desk at work to keep items in. Invariably I would end up at home with a pen in my pocket. These were stic pens that were a dime apiece if that much.



  7. Patricia Ramirez
    Jul 09, 2013 @ 09:39:22

    I would suggest to have flyers saying stealing will not get you to a fun place. Its a crime and you’ll pay for the consequences. First, you will be wearing a shirt saying your a theft. Second, you’ll be told to ask in front of the store to ask all random folks to not steal.



  8. PM Hut
    Jul 09, 2013 @ 09:01:47

    The stats are indeed hard to swallow. 95% of companies are being stolen by their employees?

    Even if you count using a blank DVD for personal use and then taking it home a theft, then I still don’t think 95%or $120 billion remotely near the actual numbers.

    Company theft is common – but it is not as high as those stats claim it is.



  9. Ed Campos
    Jul 09, 2013 @ 08:39:31

    Employee theft becomes a problem problem when the supplies are wide open and no one like the mail clerk, for instance, does not do a “sign for the supply” program because the company has not installed one. Big time theft becomes part of the problem when there are supervisors or owners who run a shabby employee relationship practice like walking all over employees. I know that for a fact!



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Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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