According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, employee theft costs American business in excess of $50 billion US Dollars (USD) annually. Seventy-five percent of all employees steal from their employers at least once throughout their careers, with half of them doing it more than once. Usually, the employees that are caught stealing aren't the ones you would have expected. There are several things you can do to lessen the likelihood that your employees steal from you, though nothing is foolproof.
The most important step a business owner or manager can do to prevent theft is to select the right employee. Perform a background check before hiring employees to verify that they don't have a history of stealing. Verify their past employment and ask if the employees are eligible to be rehired. Pay attention to the tone of the previous employer's voice when talking about the potential employees, as they are only allowed to verify dates of employment. It is also a good idea to have the candidate take a drug test, as supporting a drug habit is the number one cause of employee theft.
Inform employees of the procedures that are in place to prevent employee theft. This means telling the employees about the over/short cash log, the cameras that point to the cash registers and stock room, the company fraud prevention team and any other internal measures that are taken to prevent theft. Employees who know they may be caught are less likely to attempt to steal from the company.
Employee theft can occur in any company, despite measures taken to prevent it. The only control an employer has over theft is to lessen the likelihood of it occurring and therefore decreasing the amount of revenue lost. To cover the revenue lost to theft, an employer can purchase fraud insurance, also called fidelity bonds. This insurance covers the employer's loss due to fraud that was committed for personal benefit. More information about this insurance program is available on The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners website.
Team members who commit employee theft are usually caught due to monitoring systems. Computer systems that keep records of emails, instant messages, and log-in information and track keywords are the most efficient. An attempt to access company information from an employee's home may signal fraud or an attempt to make changes to company records. A keyword search may reveal an attempt to share company information with an outsider. For retail businesses, cameras are still the best method for preventing and catching employee theft.