Crime and Security

How honest are your employees?

How honest are your employees? This is not a question that you should take for granted. Sadly given the opportunity people do stupid things. How many shoplifters have you heard say to you when they have been caught “this is the first time that I have done this, I am very sorry.”

My first awareness of employee theft was in 1970 soon after I started working for WH Smith. A till assistant was taken off the sales floor mid shift and after an interval my colleague was escorted from the building. Smith’s employed a team of security officers who visited undertaking test purchases. When I became a branch manager I would get phone calls inviting me to go and meet these test purchasers to buy back stock and hear about any concerns that they may have had.

The biggest employee theft incident in my retail career happened at the shop that my wife and I bought in West Chiltington. As part of our due diligence I dissected the owners profit and loss account for the most recent 3 years and found a problem. The gross profit appeared to be more than 5% less than I would have predicted from the sales mix. A few months after taking over the shop one of our employees who had worked for the previous owners told me about “Anne”. Anne had left under suspicious circumstances just before the business became involved in a serious and expensive VAT investigation. Ouch! The theft and experience with Customs & Exercise was enough to persuade our predecessor that it was time to sell.  I revealed here my experience with having an employee stealing from us

Over the next few days our Australian contributor, Mark Fletcher will reveal a couple of unsettling big money employee theft incidents that he has come across recently and then there will be two posts on how to manage this area of risk to your business.

So how honest are you employees?

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