Employee Theft Hits Retailers Hard

employee background check, pre-employment screening, criminal background checkNationwide, retailers are feeling the pain of big losses due to theft—and it’s not all from shoplifters. More losses occur due to their own employees than to shoplifters, or even organized crime, according to a recent report.

The National Retail Security Survey (NRSS) revealed that in 2010, shoplifting and organized retail crime accounted for about 31% of inventory shrinkage, while thefts by employees made up a whopping 45% of losses. Another 14% of shrinkage was due to administrative error, while vendor fraud was 4% of the total.

News reports are full of employees stealing clothing, perfume, cosmetics, athletic shoes, housewares and sporting goods, and selling it on eBay, Craig’s list and other websites. In other cases, office employees with access to cash are often charged with embezzlement, or cashiers are accused of loading store debit and credit cards with cash amounts.

According to the NRSS survey, about half of gift card losses were due to dishonest employees in 2010. And it seems employees are working together to rip off their employers: the report states about 18% of internal theft cases involved collusion. Some collaborate to ring up purchases for less than the regular price, then return the merchandise later, pocketing the full amount in cash.

With sophisticated cameras and anti-theft devices, how can employees get away with stealing so much inventory from retailers? The answer is not an easy one. Each time new technology is developed, it seems, someone finds a way to circumvent it.

Loss prevention experts say employee theft is all about “opportunity.” Controlling opportunities helps cut down employee theft. Setting standards, using controls and watching employees who are suspected of wrongdoing are all important.

With the average employee theft case totaling $996, compared to shoplifting cases averaging $337, retailers have the incentive to prevent employee theft whenever possible. One way to help protect any business from employee theft is to know the background and criminal history on each new hire, by conducting thorough background checks and pre-employment screening!

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