It is always a disappointment and embarrassment to learn that members of your own team have stolen from your business. Staff dishonesty is a difficult topic to gauge and, despite implementing thorough recruitment protocols and procedures and other deterrents; it still remains a very real threat to business.
This is especially the case in the retail industry, where theft by employees continues to be a major contributor towards “shrinkage” of stock. These incidences have also been growing due to the poor state of the economy. It is well known that people attempt to find alternative means of supplementing their declining income in these challenging economic times.
In some instances, the damage can be devastating, with dire consequences to the company.
A sound example is the theft of just more than R1-million from an electronics supply chain in 2015 that caused a company’s four businesses to close. Sadly, 70 staff members also lost their jobs due to the unscrupulous actions of only a handful of people, highlighting the impact that this problem is also having on the larger economy of the country.
On the other hand, these criminal activities take place over extended periods and the damage incurred is only realised much later.
By that time, it may be too late, and it is worrying that retailers budget for this shrinkage. This is despite the impact that it has on their bottom line, or the fact that management is indirectly contributing towards the problem by inadvertently condoning it.
Some experts estimate shrinkage to be between five and seven per cent of retailers’ total turnover, with most companies budgeting for at least three to five per cent.
Meanwhile, indirect costs incurred as a result of employee theft include legal expenses, loss of productivity and increased insurance, as well as the loss of trained staff and the expense involved in replacing them.
This behaviour has so many different guises.
In some instances, it is collusion. This is when members of staff conspire with outsiders to steal from retail outlets. Then there are those cases of “sweet hearting”, when friends and family members are given “discounts”, or free items. “Grazing” rears its ugly head during poorly-supervised shifts when employees consume, or take stock without paying.
The 10-80-10 rule sheds more light on the real extent of the problem. It proposes that 10 per cent of people will never commit crime against their employer; 80 per cent might commit a crime and 10 per cent actively seek out ways to steal from their employer.
According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, employees can be swayed by circumstance, and it identifies three factors that drive workplace crime, namely motive, opportunity and rationalisation.
Motive includes greed, financial strife, unexpected bills and addictions and opportunity-related theft is thrives on weak internal financial controls and cash-management processes.
In terms of rationalisation, employees attempt to justify their actions. Typical examples include “the business won’t notice”, “I deserve a raise”, or “other people do it”.
Many businesses, including retail outlets, are now resorting to covert cameras to uncover the modus operandi of dishonest employees.
In addition to exposing the criminal behaviour, the intelligence garnered by these concealed cameras can be used to devise a comprehensive counter strategy, while helping to detect more potential weak spots in other areas of the business.
Importantly, it serves as important evidence for complex dismissal and court proceedings, as well as Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration claims.
Exposing these acts also serves as an important deterrent to other staff members, and stopping small thieves from becoming big thieves. Bear in mind that some studies have shown that employees are not always aware of the impact and effect losses of this nature have on the future success of a company.
There are many types of covert cameras, ranging from cost-effective systems for home use through to costly sophisticated technologies that are better geared to a business environment.
Havensec’s experts work closely with clients to first select the most appropriate covert surveillance technology for the environment and application, before identifying the best installation points. They are installed quickly and efficiently and in such a manner that they blend into their environments and without damaging any property.
Our cameras are hidden so well that even clients have difficulty pin-pointing their exact location after Havensec’s specialists have installed them. In addition to playing a key role in preventing employee theft, our expertise in the field has also been very successful in exposing criminal behaviour by housekeepers and roommates. They have even served as evidence of infidelity.
Havensec’s extensive experience, cutting-edge equipment and infrastructure, as well as skilled teams continue to contribute towards accurate investigative outcomes.
In addition to covert cameras, Havensec specialises in personal body guarding, armed escorts, surveillance and information gathering, debugging of private and office spaces, undercover agents and polygraphs, as well as private and civil investigations.
By offering an integrated security framework that provides stronger protection against real threats, and founded upon tried-and-tested best practices, Havensec is pro-actively responding to the interrelated nature of today’s businesses.