Most thieves are not like Aladdin in the Disney cartoon, darting around the market place in rags looking for a loaf of bread to fill their empty stomachs. Most aren’t even like Professor Moriarty from Sherlock Holmes, calculating criminals in dry-cleaned suits who can make all the queen’s jewels disappear with a flick of the wrist.
The truth is that most thieves are just like you and me. They’re the kind of people about whom employers and colleagues say “I never would’ve believed it!” into the reporter’s microphone. Most aren’t even intending to be thieves, exactly, it just sort of…happened that way.
Not everyone has the same views on or even the same definition of stealing as you do. This may seem odd, but it’s true.
In order for something to be considered stealing, it must be willingly done. In other words, absentmindedly sticking the pen someone lent you in your purse is not the same as taking two or three packages of pens from your colleague’s desk.
Secondly, something was stolen if it was willingly taken without consent. You’d think this would be obvious. It isn’t. There are those who would argue that if the thief replaces whatever was taken on the next payday, he or she wasn’t truly stealing.
This is a conversation you need to have with your employees so they know that willingly taking anything that isn’t theirs, under any circumstances, is stealing.
Retail employers lose significantly more money to employees stealing merchandise than they do to shoplifters. This is because the employees have more opportunity to do it.
“Opportunity is one of the greatest motivators in theft situations.”
Other motivators include catastrophe in the would-be thief’s life, which you can’t control, and the feeling that the thief has been slighted in some way. This is also something that you can only do so much to prevent, because no matter how well you treat your employees (and you should treat them well), someone is always going to feel like they’ve gotten the short end of the stick.
Getting rid of the opportunity to steal is something you absolutely have control over, and it’s as easy as running surprise cash register audits or staying to help the employees close up for the night. Also, it’s proven that many employees know someone is stealing from the company, but never say anything about it. Make sure your employees have an easy avenue to come to you with such situations while remaining anonymous.
In the end, the best way to ward off would-be Aladdins and Moriartys is to treat your employees fairly (imagine if you were them, how would you want to be treated?) and screen well. Mostly, except in the case of great financial catastrophe, someone isn’t going to just one day become dishonest. It’s more likely that they’ve shown such patterns in their life before, and if you screen them well, you’ll know, and save your business from a bucket load of heartache.
Marcus Background Investigations is here to help make your company thrive. Don’t be left with any doubt where the honesty of your employees is concerned. There’s a better way—and maybe you’ll even get some sleep at night!