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10% Of Retail Employees In The UK Turn Blind Eye To Theft By Colleagues

G4S Secure Solutions (UK And Ireland) : 28 January, 2011  (Technical Article)
Till fraud and product consumption by employees seen by some as minor infringements with 1 in 10 turning a blind eye to such crimes as discovered during survey undertaken in the UK by G4S
New research published by G4S Secure Solutions (UK) reveals that one in ten retail employees (10%) has committed a crime or failed to report a crime committed by colleagues against their employer in the last 12 months.

The most common crime committed by retail employees was consuming produce without paying for it, with an estimated 110,000 workers secretly stealing consumables. Over 55,000 retail employees admit to stealing cash from the till and almost 31,000 have stolen cash from another area of the retail outlet such as a cash office, or petty cash box.

The findings reveal that those working in the retail industry have also turned a blind eye to crimes being committed against their employer. Around 37,000 people say they have not reported a friend or family member deliberately putting weighed items through a self-scan checkout on a cheaper product code.  Over 30,000 have turned a blind eye to friends or family failing to scan items at a self-scan checkout.

G4S research reveals almost 25,000 retail employees have falsified the quantity of goods being delivered in order to profit from the difference and a further 12,000 have taken goods while in transit to a warehouse or a shop floor.  G4S is warning that a lack of security at loading bays and other points in the supply chain can prove extremely costly for retailers.

Across the retail industry cash losses account for around a third of internal fraud, a third of external fraud and a third of procedural fraud.  A single note can be handled up to 16 times before it completes the cash cycle, so every time it gets handled there is the risk of temptation and fraud.  G4S has developed a cash management solution, Cash360, for both the cash office and for the check-out that effectively eliminates this risk for the retailer.

Douglas Greenwell, Sales & Marketing Director, G4S Secure Solutions (UK), commented:  “Retailers often have a very high staff turnover and recruit significant volumes of casual and temporary workers, so it is difficult for them to screen and vet all the people they employ effectively. Unfortunately, this means that a minority of employees in the industry are happy to take advantage of their employer either deliberately, or through being ignorant about the consequences.

“Retailers can take a number of steps to minimise shrinkage, from screening and vetting employees to using integrated security solutions throughout the supply chain such as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) or employing manned security officers to act as a powerful deterrent to internal theft in-store.”

Adrian Beck, Head of the Department of Criminology at Leicester University, commented: "Theft within is a real issue for retailers, as employees take advantage of their position to divert goods from the supply chain or steal goods within the store environment.  Employers need to find a balance between securing, tracking and monitoring their stock and revenues, while trusting employees to carry out their roles effectively and honestly.”

“If an employee perceives the risk of getting caught to be minimal for committing an offence, criminology studies demonstrate they will often be tempted to break the law.  Retailers can make use of both manned security solutions and available technologies to reduce the risk of theft or merchandise diversion throughout the retail supply chain.”      

The research also found that many retail employees had deliberately damaged goods or packaging and removed them from a store without paying for them and others pretended to pass goods through the checkout without taking payment for them.

G4S is warning that, while taken individually, many of these crimes result in low level financial losses, the cumulative effect is significant and can have a dramatic impact on retailers’ revenues.  It believes there is a need for greater education and vigilance regarding theft by employees.
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