We talk about retail shrink and theft a lot in the surveillance industry, but today we want to specifically discuss employee theft in relation to small businesses.
Recently, a University of Cincinnati researcher’s employee theft study was presented at the annual meeting of the Academy of Criminal Justic Sciences in Philadelphia.
The study surveyed 344 small businesses, asking questions that included whether the business had experienced employee theft, whether they had reported it, what was stolen, who stole it, and more.
Lets take a look at some of the survey results via the below infographic. To read the full release, click here.
To recap the above infographic, and add a bit more context, lets recap the data.
A surprisingly low percentage of employers that experience employee theft report it. Only 16%. The study goes on to explain that much of this decision is tied to the cost of prosecution, as well as the different relationships between employer and employee, which is understandable.
Sometimes it’s just not worth it to go after thieves, and sometimes you just want to put everything behind you because it may be a family member or friend. Other times, small businesses may not be able to provide clear proof. Maybe they don’t have a commercial security camera system that can identify the thief or catch them in the act.
Most small business employee thieves target cash as their main objective. While some might only steal $5, cash theft of up to $20,000 was reported by the small businesses surveyed.
Among other things stolen were products sold by the company, production materials used in creating products, tools, and equipment.
Perhaps surprisingly, 61% of employee theft occurs over time. On average, the perpetrator slowly steals cash or other things over a sixteen month span before they are caught. Sometimes it’s a quickly as two weeks, and there was even a reported case of twenty years of continuous theft.
Not surprisingly, the primary employee thieves are those working on the front lines. This includes non-managers and people that aren’t more deeply tied to the company. They make up 60% of those that steal. Managers and other employees, such as HR, purchasers, etc, make up the other 40%.
We’d like to hear from you. While this study surveyed a relatively large sample of small businesses, there are a huge number not represented in the study.
We would also like to know what you are doing to prevent employee theft. Do you have a surveillance system, a loss-prevention team, or other deterrents in place? Let us know.