Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Catching employees who Steal

We conduct integrity checks on our employees on a regular basis. Basically, I select an employee and I try to tempt them into stealing something. Some take the bait, some don’t. In order to select employees who may be more apt to take the bait, you may have to do some research to see exactly what motivates them. With some, it can be cash, others, merchandise. It all depends.
A good investigator once told me, every time he observed an employee hugging or lying on a register, he’d conduct an integrity check on that associate. His logic was, whenever an employee displayed that type of affection for the register, he/she was actually stating that the register and its contents belonged to that person. I don’t know about all that, but, for shits and grins, I decided to test his theory.
On my way to my office one day, I observed an employee leaning on a register. She was standing behind the register with her arms folded and resting on the top of the register. I took note and went to personnel to check her schedule for the week so I could attempt to prove or disprove my friend’s theory.
With the help of personnel, I arranged for the associate to open a register in a department by herself the next morning. The register also happened to be under surveillance by my office at that time. I had installed a camera in the ceiling above the register, two weeks earlier, to rid myself of another dishonest employee. Every register had a Plexiglas tile over it in the ceiling. The Plexiglas tile was tinted and you couldn’t tell if there was a camera in it or not. The funny thing was, sometimes there was, and sometimes, there wasn’t. The video footage from this vantage point was phenomenal; I could see directly inside the register drawer and everything on the counter. I could even see the denomination of the bills as they were counted.
After leaving personnel, I visited the cashier cage and they issued me a crisp new fifty dollar bill (which I had to sign for) and we both made note of its serial number.
About an hour after the store was closed for the night, I returned with my keys and alarm codes. I opened the register the associate would be using the next morning. Per company policy, each register had no less than $100.00 and no more than $100.99 each night before closing. The bills were supposed to be in different denominations (so employees couldn’t get lazy and only keep five 20's or ten 10's). It had to be that way so that when the register was opened for business, the associate had change for any bill a customer might tender first thing in the morning.
On this particular night, the register had two $20 dollar bills, three $10 dollar bills, two $5 dollar bills, twenty $1 dollar bills and some coin change. I counted the ones again, and feeling this would be the best place to insert a misplaced bill, I removed a small piece of my chewing gum, affixed it to the back of the $50 bill and pressed it against a $1 bill. Then I placed this in the middle of the stack of $1s.
The next morning, I was first to enter the store. I proceeded to my office before any employee could note that I was on site. While in the office, I could observe the whole store, so I sat there and watched until I could follow the associate to her register.
After getting situated, she opened the register and began to count the cash inside. When she got to the ones, she located the $50 and looked at it very closely. She placed it to the side and recounted the $1s again. Then, to make sure that she’d counted right, she recounted the whole register again. Now, by policy, she had approximately 30 minutes to contact the cashier’s cage and alert them to any overage or shortage in the register she just opened. She closed the register with the fifty dollar bill still sitting on the side. She looked around, and before pocketing it, she did something, that, to this day, I’ve never understood. She looked up to the black Plexiglas square above her head, right into the camera, as if to say, “Did you see that?”
For some reason, all employees do that before they do something stupid. I don’t know if it’s a prayer, hoping there’s nothing in the box, or, if they are simply saying to us, “Ok, come and get me.”
I pride myself in being a fair and open-minded person. At least, that’s what I tell myself. With employees, I am less patient than I am with shoplifters, but sometimes, I make exceptions. As soon as she pocketed the cash, I could have gone straight to the department and arrested her. However, I was trying to be nice, so, I allowed her the complete thirty minutes as store policy dictated. I was hoping she would have a conscience and return the cash.
Needless to say, those thirty minutes came and went, and she had not developed any remorse or conscience about stealing from her employer, not even when the police department escorted her through the store with cuffs on.

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