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Monday, August 29, 2011

Preventing Employee Theft

Employee theft has been a problem for retailers since the beginning of retail… which roughly dates back to the beginning of commerce. Unfortunately, we still haven’t solved the problem. Employee theft can range from the pilfering of store supplies to elaborate schemes in which thousands of dollars disappear before the very eyes of the business owner. In fact, in the retail industry, one study by a forensic accounting firm cites employees “out-stealing” shoplifters.

Despite the disturbing facts surrounding employee theft, it’s not helpful if you simply assume the worst from your employees and create an atmosphere of distrust. That said, there are certain measures you should consider to limit your exposure to dishonesty. Your POS system can provide you with tools to both detect and prevent instances of employee theft. By using them, and by showing your employees that you are paying attention to their work, you can go a long way toward “keeping them honest.”

Tips for Using Your POS System to Combat Employee Theft:
• Make sure every POS user has a unique user ID and/or password to log into the system.

• Run a report each day or each week to review voided items, and do the same with returns. Make a point to ask questions regularly about any transactions that don’t make sense. Contact your POS vendor if you need assistance finding or using these reports.

• Require that your employees enter a specific reason for any voided sales.

• Do a physical inventory check on any high dollar returns. Did the items really get returned?

• Require a customer name, Driver’s License number, and phone number for returns exceeding a certain dollar amount.

• Watch returns on non-diminishing or non-stock items carefully.

• Look for payment types on returns. Flag any returns where the refund payment differs in type from the original payment (i.e. purchased with a check and refund given in cash)

• Promote accuracy with your registers, and reward your employees when the registers remain in perfect balance for a certain period of time.

• Review stock adjustments. Limit the entry of stock adjustments to employees who have an inventory management role.

• If you have a camera system, make sure each cash drawer is visible. Reports from your POS system coupled with video footage can tell the story of what is happening in the register.

If you suspect that an employee is stealing, trust your instincts and investigate. If you have good processes in place, your POS system can facilitate both the prevention and investigation of employee theft. To read more in this topic, take a look at the following resources online:

Kessler International Report

NRHA Loss Prevention Training


  1. I’ve worked at a retail store before and I’m not surprised if identity theft is very common in this type of stores. The storage rooms are usually full of ready-to-eat food and food products that are really tempting.

    Sansone Conti