Jeremy Julian

8 Warning Signs Your Employees Are Stealing

August 8, 2018

Today, we are kicking off our two-part series on employee theft! Our first article will cover some shocking statistics about employee theft and how you can detect the warning signs. Next week’s article will focus on how employers can stop their people from stealing.


So, workplace theft is more common than most small business owners think. About 75% of employees have stolen from their employer once and about 38% have stolen at least twice. When you include theft of time, the percent of employees that have stolen from their employer goes up to a whopping 95%!


How much does all this workplace fraud cost small businesses? According to a 2016 report from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, the median loss is $180,000 for both big and small privately held businesses, but for small businesses the loss is much more devastating than it is for big business. In fact, some estimates say that 30 percent of small business fail because of employee theft. It doesn’t matter what size of restaurant you have: theft could have a devastating effect on your business.


Small businesses tend to be vulnerable to employee fraud because they don’t have procedures in place to prevent it, and because small business owners often don’t believe trusted employees — or their business partners — would steal from them.


So, how do you know if employee theft is happening to you? In some cases, you’ll get a tip from a customer or vendor or an employee. Sometimes you’ll stumble on fraud by accident. But in many cases the fraud will go on under your nose.


The majority of this internal theft occurs at the point of sale. This means that it’s your cash that’s at biggest risk of being stolen by your employees, not your inventory. There are a number of complex explanations for this. But, more than likely, your employees are targeting your cash because it’s easier to conceal, harder to trace and simple to offload. Below are other commons signs you should look out for:


  1. Sudden changes in lifestyle – is an employee throwing around more money? Made any big purchases?
  2. Change in work habits – The employee who used to hate mornings now comes to work long before anybody else arrives and stays much later.
  3. Making a point to work independently – do you have an employee that goes out of their way to work by themselves?
  4. Making friends with a vendor – Being friendly is not a crime, but is your employee receiving gifts or tickets? Are they a little too chummy?
  5. Frequently damaged or missing products – If the number of damaged goods starts rising, something is likely going on.
  6. Excessive absences – do you have an employee always taking off?
  7. Higher frequency of strange vehicles – If you start seeing strange cars sitting outside your business, write down the license plate and possibly call the police. Keep a close eye if they’re around a dumpster or other place that may indicate they’re picking something up.
  8. Cash count is always ‘off’ or perfect – we are human, and we make mistakes. But if a register is always off a couple bucks or is always perfect, then you have reason to be suspicious.


Be sure to look out for any and all of these warning signs to keep your business safe.


Curious about how Custom Business Solutions can help your company? Check out their Northstar POS system and its capabilities to power and improve your restaurant!

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