Almost one-in-ten retail employees has committed a crime against their employer in past 12 months
The most common crime committed by retail employees was consuming produce without paying for it, with over 160,000 workers secretly stealing food. Over 56,000 retail employees admit to outright theft from their employer in the last 12 months, removing items from a store in which they were working without paying for them.
G4S warns that unsecured vehicle loading bays prove an attractive target for retail employees looking to remove goods without permission. Its research shows that over 28,000 retail employees have admitted to stealing goods when in transit to a shop, or between a storage area and the shop floor. The diversion of goods in the supply chain, from the distributor or manufacturer, before they reach the shop floor is a major problem for retailers with significant revenues lost each year as a result of merchandise being stolen.
Over 84,000 retail employees removed goods they perceived as damaged from a store without paying for them. These individuals may not be aware that, despite goods being damaged, their employer can often recoup monies by selling these items on the shop floor at a discounted price, or by returning them to the distributor or manufacturer if they arrived at the store in an unsuitable condition for commercial sale.
A staggering 50,000 retail workers committing a crime against their employer did so as a result of a misplaced sense of entitlement, claiming they “felt they worked so hard for the company that they deserved it”. Other retail employee excuses included not having the money to purchase the item removed and acting for the thrill of taking an item without paying. Larger retailers are warned to be especially vigilant as many retail employees who have stolen items or consumed produce without permission did so because they felt that as a big retailer it wouldn’t matter to them.
Adrian Beck, Head of the Department of Criminology at the University of Leicester: “In many respects, staff dishonesty is the 500lb gorilla in the corner of the store – most see it, but few like to discuss it and even fewer are willing to take it on. Retail organisations need to focus primarily on the problems which are most controllable within their businesses and internal theft and process failures both fall into this category. The results from this survey once again show the importance of understanding all the threats faced by retailers and highlights the danger of assuming that retail losses are predominantly due to external thieves.”
While taken individually, many of these crimes result in low level financial losses but the cumulative effect is significant and can have a dramatic impact on retailers’ revenues, says G4S. It believes there is a need for greater education and vigilance regarding theft by employees. This is reinforced by the finding that thousands of those stealing from their employers did so because they felt they could get away with it, because there was little in the way of security such as bag searches to discourage their criminal tendencies.
Douglas Greenwell, Sales & Marketing Director at G4S comments: "With large numbers of employees, relatively high staff turnover and a reliance on casual and temporary workers it is difficult for retailers to effectively screen and vet all those working in their stores. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a number of unscrupulous individuals being employed that are happy to take advantage of their employer.
“By screening employees wherever possible and employing sophisticated security solutions, not merely focussed on areas frequented by customers, retailers can mitigate against the threat from within and minimises losses from employee shrinkage. Retailers can employ integrated, sophisticated security solutions to prevent shrinkage throughout the supply chain. These include utilising technology such as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) to account accurately for all goods from the minute they leave manufacturers’ premises to the moment they are merchandised on the shop floor, even to the extent that any damage to goods in transit can be recorded accurately."
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