These are dire times.  The economy is sketchy, and employees can do foolish things in desperation.   Many people need money, and more often than not,  a fair portion of an employer's staff is probably in straits with overdue payments on everything from mortgages to the telephone bill.  So in some ways it should be no wonder that employment theft is on the rise.

Employment theft is on the rise and industrial espionage has actually increased significantly during the past few years.   In many cases, regarding retail theft, much of it  emanates from external sources.  There are criminal  rings committing online theft and credit card and gift card fraud.  And then there are the in-store shoplifters.   A fine tradition, causing shrinkage equally to retail venues large and small.   And then that new and innovative approach, the flash mob, where scads of people flood a venue, all robbing and stealing at the same time.   But flash mobs, I should add, according to the report synopsized on Security Director News, are more media hype than a persistent reality.

And then there are the employees who walk off with goods and either keep them or sell them at reduced prices.  When you don't actually pay for the merchandise you can sell it at drastically discounted pricing.
Employees, like their counterpart shoplifters and the different crime rings, will sell them on the street,  in flea  markets, or to friends and relations, or put the stolen merchandise up on the Internet.   Acording to the survey, 73 percent of the respondents experienced cash and merchandise theft from internal sources.

According to the study..."Respondents cited new hire orientation (82 percent) and internal hotlines (61 percent) as the most effective deterrents to internal theft."  As friends in manufacturing and the retail trade have told me, the majority o honest employees resent that the dishonest employees are getting away with theft.   They would like to report them, but if there are no open  yest discreet channels they are reluctant do it face to face. Stands to reason as the honest employees fear repercussions from the thieves.  Ultimately, if the thieving continues, employee morale drops substantially.   As do net receipts.

Background checks can help in vetting new employees.  Checking job applicants for prior criminal records is the fundamental no-brainer in the background checking industry.  Aptitude and psychological testing can also help.  Some companies, like Boston Biometrics,  claim they offer testing that, to short hand it, can review handwriting samples to filter the bad applies from the viable employee candidates.  But if you are looking for a total guarantee that you will not be hiring the employee who is prone to steal from you, then there are no real solutions.

Employees are motivated by many things.  The vagaries of the economy is not the least of them.  Most employees, no matter how much they are hurting financially, will not reduce themselves to stealing.  But some will.  And then there are those who really don't need any excuses at all.   They will steal from their employers, as Edmund Hillary said of Mt. Everest, just because it's there.

But hard times and a bad economy bring on the desperation.   Forewarned is forearmed.   Background checks and aptitude and psychological testing may prove cost effect, as will the implementation of hot lines and communications channels.  Security apparatus can prove beneficial in discouraging retail theft.

Even so, some will steal..  Some will steal from the outside, and for some it's an inside job.  And like termites, thieves can whittle at your foundation.  Only so much shrinkage can be absorbed, before you are out of business.


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