Who's Minding the Store?

June 1998


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 repairs.

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 camera.
  • 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 sales@wwsc.com.

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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