Employee theft accounts for about $50 billion in losses to U.S. businesses each year. Statistics show that 75% of employees have stolen at least once from their employers, 37% will do it again, and an alarming 33% of business bankruptcies were caused by employee theft. The most likely methods of discovering these thefts were either as tips from other employees or accidental encounters.
Preventing employee theft is a matter of proactively identifying and shutting down opportunities for theft while also educating and involving employees in security procedures.
Identify And Eliminate Theft Opportunities
Employee theft is a crime of opportunity.
A supply cabinet that should be locked isn’t. The absence of an equipment inventory makes it difficult to know how many monitors or printers there should be in the office. A lack of purchasing oversight results in a surplus no one will miss.
Make yourself aware of how easy it might be to walk off with something that isn’t properly tracked or secured, and then take steps to eliminate the temptation by correcting those lapses. For example, assigning accountability for the purchase and tracking of supplies to a single person can reduce or remove the opportunity for the theft of office supplies by preventing others from buying without oversight.
Educate Employees To Deter Criminal Behavior
One of the best ways to deter criminal behavior among employees is to make sure they know you’re aware of the possibility and prepared to handle it. Establish a written policy that outlines employee responsibilities, standards of honesty, general security procedures, and the consequences for not following those procedures. Make sure new and established employees read it, understand it, and sign it as a condition of employment. Keep the document updated and available to everyone.
Involving employees in security reviews can also help deter bad behavior. Reward those employees who uncover problems and involve everyone in implementing new procedures. If your employees feel that they have a stake in the success of the business, they’re more likely to follow rules and be vigilant against crime.
A Free Crime Prevention Webinar
For additional information, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has a 30-minute online presentation called Crime Prevention: A Guide for Small Businesses designed for “business owners who are concerned about crimes within and around their businesses.”