Employee theft is one of the most frustrating problems faced by business owners. We’ve discussed how to control the problem through effective pre-employment screening. Tighter control of back door and receiving area operations also is important.

Stealing cash or forging records isn’t the most common type of employee theft – pilfering products and materials is more prevalent. Strong policy management and supervision in production areas usually limits minor theft, but most managers know it is difficult to consistently oversee the back door or receiving area.

In order for theft to occur, an employee must find a way to covertly remove products from the premises, whether the theft involves driving engine blocks through the back door with a forklift or carrying rolls of toilet paper out in what appears to be an empty box.

The common denominator is the back door.

Most businesses can’t afford back-door guards, and no manager has time to guard the back door himself. And if an employee is determined to steal, there’s no way to stop him, right?


Try these tips to control back door theft:

• Ensure your back door remains closed and locked with a “panic bar” device that sounds an alarm if opened but allows easy exit in an emergency.
• Distribute keys only to a select group of accountable supervisors. Make it a policy that a supervisor always be present to open and close the door.
• Focus a small, closed-circuit camera on the back door area inside the building. Install an event-triggered VCR monitored in a central office or closet normally not accessed by employees.
• Install a motion sensor in the ceiling of the receiving area just inside the back door. (I recommend a 360-degree dual-event passive infrared motion sensor, requiring both heat and motion to trigger.)
• Connect the alarm sensors to the VCR and camera. Use T-160 tapes and adjust the VCR for eight hours of continuous recording.

You’ll wind up with constant video surveillance of your back door whenever the door is opened. Because the VCR only records events triggered by one or both alarm sensors, the tape probably will record a full day of activity.

Each morning or afternoon, conduct “high-speed” review of the tape in about an hour. It will be time well-spent.

If this program sounds expensive, think again. The entire system will cost less than $2,000. Often, theft savings can pay this expenditure back in a month or two – even a small business.

It’s also important to implement a written policy that no box or crate can be taken to the dumpster unless it has been crushed in a trash compactor installed just inside the back door (within camera view). The compactor is a luxury, but it can only help.

You can control employee theft. Make it your business to monitor what goes out the back door. After all, it is your business.

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