Who's Minding the Store?
Take steps to deter employee theft
By Elie Ribacoff
Internal theft destroys businesses like yours. You may argue you have
a small store or that you have a large, well-trusted staff. But while the
staff's watching the store, who's watching the staff?
Look at your store through an employee's eyes and ask "What can
I steal without getting caught?" We're not talking about office supplies;
we're looking at loose stones, gold, finished jewelry, cash and unclaimed
Keep good inventory. If you don't know what you have, chances are your
employees know you don't. The temptation is great when the value is so high.
What starts as a few grams of gold from the scrap pile or couple of melee
diamonds from a parcel can add up to thousands of dollars very quickly.
Jewelers report mysterious disappearances of parcels of loose diamonds,
large mounted rings, even briefcases with hundreds of thousands in gems
each year. Whether these losses are caused by armed robbers or your own
employees, they demand your strict attention. You, the owner and/or manager,
can't be in the store all the time, so here are some suggestions:
- Thoroughly screen all potential employees. Check backgrounds and references.
- Train employees to be alert and not distracted. Ask local police to
instruct your people on how to be a "blockwatcher." Many of the
same methods apply in your store.
- Make sure employees show customers only one item at a time. Teach them
to lock showcases and never to turn their backs on merchandise on the counter
or in a customer's hands.
- If you're away from the store often, exaggerate how long you'll be
away, and then return early to check what's going on. This serves as a
warning to any theft-prone employee that you may walk back into the store
at any time.
- Conduct periodic integrity testing. Leave a ring on the floor. See
who turns it in and who doesn't.
- Install cameras to document all activity in the store. Use 24-hour
real-time recorders instead of the time-lapse recorders that leave gaps
between frames. Thieves are fast, sometimes faster than a slowly recording
- Conduct thorough screening of your staff, with periodic integrity testing
and polygraphs as permitted by law. These precautions and a well-designed
surveillance system will go a long way in deterring, detecting and apprehending
these types of criminals.
These suggestions are not expensive to implement and will provide you
with a greater peace of mind knowing your business is in good, honest hands.
Elie Ribacoff is president of Worldwide Security Systems & Consultants,
New York, NY; 718-380-0209, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.