The Insider Threat: Employee Theft

Find out how you can protect your company from employee theft.

Most security systems are designed to prevent outsiders from breaking in to steal or vandalize property. Unfortunately, these security systems do little to prevent a trusted employee from robbing you.

A security background check prior to hiring someone is a good practice, and this will weed out known criminals. But anyone can become a thief at any time and it is difficult to predict or prevent your employees from stealing from you.

Many thefts from businesses are called “opportunity thefts,” which is to say that cash and pilferable property items were left exposed and unguarded, and an employee made an instant decision to steal based on a one-time opportunity.

There are also many reasons why an otherwise honest person begins to steal, such as a sudden financial hardship or disgruntlements.

An employee can steal your cash, equipment, furniture, supplies and vital business information. So what can you do to prevent employee theft?

According to the Philadelphia Police, small business owners should follow strict hiring practices. Verify all information and contact all the references listed on an application. Consider running a credit check.

You should also establish a written policy that outlines employee responsibilities, standards of honesty, and general security procedures and consequences for not following them. Make sure that new employees read it, understand it and sign it as a condition of employment.

Keep accurate records on cash flow, inventory, equipment, and supplies. Have it checked regularly by someone other then the person responsible for maintaining it.

Limit access to keys, the safe, computerized records, and alarm codes, and engrave “DO NOT DUPLICATE” on business keys. Change locks and access codes when an employee is terminated.

If internal theft is discovered, take action quickly. Contact your local law enforcement agency.

I would also recommend the installation of interior cameras.

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