Store employees steal more than shoplifters

At the Saks flagship store in Manhattan, a 23-year-old sales clerk was caught recently ringing up $130,000 in false merchandise returns and siphoning the money onto a gift card…

Employee fraud involving gift cards appears to be growing sharply as retailers struggle to contain overall theft, now estimated at $36 billion a year in the industry, or 1.51 percent of retail sales, according to a leading national study. Even as total sales have been falling, employee theft and shoplifting have been rising across the United States, industry experts say, with occasional arrests making headlines.

Many of the gift card crimes are straightforward, frequently involving young sales clerks and smaller amounts than the Saks theft. Among the variations of such crimes, cashiers often do fake refunds of merchandise and then, with the amount refunded, use their registers to electronically fill gift cards, which they take. Or sometimes when shoppers buy gift cards, cashiers give them blank cards and then divert the shoppers’ money onto cards for themselves…

The most common type of employee theft is “sweethearting,” in which cashiers fail to ring up or scan goods that friends or relatives present at the register, Professor Hollinger said. Stealing from the till remains a problem, too. But with gift cards continuing to grow in popularity, they are an increasingly easy target.

Whatever method employees use to steal, their take is more substantial than that of the average shoplifter. Joshua Bamfield’s global study of retail theft found that larcenous employees averaged $1,890 in theft, compared with $438 for shoplifters…

Professor Hollinger says the rate of theft is greatest among retailers with high turnover rates and many part-time workers, who may be less loyal and under more financial pressure than full-time workers.

He also found higher theft among younger workers. “Older workers know they have a lot more to lose — promotional opportunities, health insurance, 401(k)’s and pensions,” Professor Hollinger said.

My experience in traffic management, small parcel manifesting systems plus a bit of retail – leads me to believe that the prospect of a future within a firm makes significant difference to loyalty, standards-based behavior and theft. Someone working in a facility where management reaches out to promote from within, assist in education assistance, provide medical benefits – is a lot less likely to jeopardize an entry-level job that can lead to something better.

There are plenty of good examples – UPS being the strongest in my experience.

2 thoughts on “Store employees steal more than shoplifters

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.