Customer theft is a well-researched phenomenon plaguing retail outlets even as many shoppers (and thieves) have now moved onto the Internet. What is often less discussed, and perhaps less thought about, is employee theft. Nobody wants to believe that their employees steal, and most people probably don’t set out to steal from their employers. But when the opportunity presents itself, many of us might find it difficult to say no.
I can confess that I have taken the occasional pen or packet of post-its from the office without thinking too much about it. Surely I’m not alone? Even though that is also considered stealing, I’m focusing on theft of larger items in this post. In many workplaces, employees can steal valuable parts, tools, or even information to benefit themselves in one way or another. Without getting into money fraud, which is another major issue concerning many employers, businesses can cease to exist by losing items they manufacture and sell.
So why do employees steal? I imagine that some people do it because they feel they don’t get a fair compensation for their work. Maybe they are looking for some extra money by selling the stolen items or returning them later on as if they were purchased. Others might steal just because they can, or because they feel entitled to do so. If theft of intellectual property in electronic format is included, the problem can have significant consequences beyond our imagination.
However, the chances of getting caught are quite high already, since many companies have invested in loss prevention and security equipment like video cameras or even a full screening process. Still, in the United States employee theft is more hurtful to retailers than shoplifting.
In my opinion, some of the biggest issues with employee monitoring and security measures are that they might inconvenience the employees and make them feel like they are not trusted. This can lead to negative writings online, or to an arduous battle between management and labour unions. Businesses need to take care of their employees so that they still get the best talent on the market but need to monitor what the employees do during the work day. There probably isn’t one perfect way of preventing employees or visitors from stealing, but instead a combination of tactics might be the way to go.
Asqella’s ARGON camera device can catch thieves by detecting items hidden under their clothing. ARGON receives terahertz waves from the human body, forming an image of the person and showing items that are blocking the terahertz emission. The device is able to screen people as they walk by and can detect several materials like liquids, plastics, and metal.
Other methods, like walk-through metal detectors or transmission x-ray -based whole body imagers, might face resistance due to health and safety concerns, but ARGON is a passive device and therefore perfectly safe to use. One of ARGON’s key features, the industry’s highest throughput for similar screening devices, enables fast and discreet inspection of staff during shift changes, when coupled with an appropriate concept of operations. Other forms of security, like CCTV and properly trained staff, should also be utilized for maximum efficiency.
Even though employees’ motives for stealing might be hard to understand, loss prevention should not be an obstacle for running a business.