Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Employee Theft And Loss Prevention Investigators

I had just started at a new company and was being introduced to everyone as they came into the store. Later in the morning, this guy, who worked in the men’s department, came back and struck up a conversation with me. It was cool and all, but, I’d been doing this too long to dismiss this as just a friendly guy. Later in the day, the same employee came by when I was on a break smoking a cigarette.
Where I come from, if you ever had employees who were overtly friendly or too inquisitive, you could pretty much bet your ass they were dirty.
After my break, I was watching the monitors with my new co-workers, doing a little studying on company’s policies and procedures when someone asked me, what I thought about the employees I’d met so far. Being me, I pretty much stayed neutral on all the employees, but I told them that I thought the guy from the men’s department was dirty.
Damn, you’d have thought I’d said the Pope was dirty. They all came to his defense, telling me how he was the best employee the store had and how he was the number one salesperson for the entire store.
It’s a sad day when LP personnel get too close to the very employees from whom they’re supposed to protect the assets of the company. Any LP agent from Wal-Mart to Saks is trained to know that 70% of the losses in his store are by way of employees. The best thing an officer can do is never get too close to anyone, not even the LP personnel working with you, because, one day, you may have to arrest that person too.
After the response I got for voicing my opinion, I backed off so I wouldn’t cause waves in my new job. Then, in a couple of months, something happened that none of us expected. The LP manager accepted a transfer to another store with the same company. When he left, he took with him the two officers that had been with him the longest, the lead investigator and a female investigator.
I’d been there a whole seven months before I took over the department and the new LP Manager told me to run the department the way I wanted.
I hired a new female and another male investigator and began to train them the way I had been trained. The other thing I did was, teach them how to do internal investigations. The outgoing crew did well when it came to external theft, but that was only a small portion of losses.
Most people who steal from stores are called opportunists. Basically, they see an opportunity and they seize it. That’s why it’s so easy to catch them and even if you don’t, they only come back occasionally so your losses are minimal. Now, you take an employee that decides to steal from you, it’s a big problem because he’s in your store everyday. They usually start off small and they grow in confidence. With that confidence, they can do a lot of damage in the amount of losses they cause.
We were having a LP meeting and I was explaining to the investigators that I needed them to start paying particular attention to several employees and keep a log of their activities. While saying this, I saw the employee I had suspected of being dirty my first day on the job. He was talking with this beautiful female; I remembered I’d seen them earlier when I was in the store. I again got that feeling that he was dirty. I stopped the meeting and informed them that I wanted them to watch him and her.
He started to ring up her merchandise and they talked as he did so. After ringing everything up, he began to put the items in a large plastic store bag. He placed all the items he’d just rung up in the bag. Then, he reached behind him and grabbed a box that contained women’s boots and placed them into the bag. The two investigators couldn’t believe their eyes. He’d just given her a pair of expensive boots without ringing them up and we’d captured the whole thing on tape. They asked if I was surprised. No, I’d been at this too long; nothing surprised me anymore. I rather expected it.

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