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WHY EMPLOYEES STEAL


Darrell Smith CFE, ARM, CIM, FCSI



Whether you are in manufacturing, retail or a service industry. Your employees steal from you for all the same reasons. Criminologists state that three elements must be present in order for employee theft to occur,


1. Motive: Employees may have financial, gambling, substance abuse problems, or may just feel they are unappreciated or under paid at work.


2. Opportunity: The lack of security control systems and clear cut policies and procedures. Make it easier to steal from you.


3. Justification: Is simply the employee justifying his actions by saying I will put it back, it's not really stealing or they want me to take it.


Once all three elements are in place you have employee theft. The 10-10-80 rule states that;

- 10% of your employees will steal from you at each and every opportunity.

- 10% of your employees will never steal from you at any opportunity.

- 80% of your employees may or may not steal from you based on motive, opportunity, and justification.


As employers we have no control of an employee's motive or justification, but we can do something about opportunity. Being pro-active to prevent employee theft is more effective, and costs a lot less than being reactive. An effective employee theft prevention program should include the following preventative measures.


Conduct pre-employment screening checks to eliminate potential employees with motive and justification.


Have a clear and concise corporate code of conduct outlining what behaviour is expected of your employees, and what course of action will be taken in the event of a violation.


Have a Whistle blower Hotline to allow employees to report wrong doing anonymously. Studies have shown that  having a whistle blower hotline, will reduce the severity of losses by catching the theft sooner. Many whisltleblower hotlines; such as our own Workplaceviolationshotline.ca allow all types of workplace violations to be reported.


Communicate this code of conduct to all new and existing employees, suppliers and contractors. Have them sign off on it every year.

Be consistent with enforcing policies. Treat every violator the same.


For younger workers with less time on the job, have employee appreciation and recognition programs. Such as a $10.00 gift certificate to a coffee shop or movie theatre.



In conclusion a proactive approach to employee theft will be more cost effective, providing a greater Return on Investment.

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