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Having a business means that you will likely have a lot of cash and coins coming in and out of the register. And, no matter how much you trust your employees, stealing from a cash register at work is more common than you might think.
There have been studies that found that nearly 75% of employees steal cash from their employer. Employee theft can lead to up to 5% of yearly revenue being taken out of the register. This can put a large dent in the profits of a business and make it difficult to expand and increase sales.
This is especially true for a small business because they often have lower profit margins than larger corporations. A smaller amount of theft can make a bigger impact with a smaller company or store, so employees stealing from you can be a major issue.
Why is stealing money so common? No one can really say for sure, but there are ways to prevent it, and different types of theft to watch out for.
Although taking cash directly from the register is one form of theft, that is not the only kind you should know about. When handling cash management, you will see that there are multiple ways that your employees may be stealing from you. Knowing each way that you may be losing money will keep you on top of the issue.
This type of theft is when an employee handles cash from a customer for a sale but doesn't ring it up on the register and instead pockets the cash for themselves. As a business owner, you have no record of this theft because there was no purchase rung up. This can also be done using checks, by taking the check and depositing into their own account instead of giving it to you to deposit.
This type of theft can be difficult to notice and can cause you to lose money in the form of inventory, and the loss of money from the sale not going into the register. This can hit a small business hard, especially if the employee is doing this every day.
This kind of stealing involves taking cash that has already been entered into your system. This can be tracked, and it is much more difficult to do. However, an employee can attempt to hide the transaction by voiding a sale, ringing up a refund, or trying to throw away evidence in the form of receipts.
Just because this is easier to catch, doesn’t mean that this form of theft isn’t common. Employees find new ways to hide their tracks, and with the ability to void sales or give refunds, they may be able to hide it for quite some time.
This type of stealing is any theft of cash that was not authorized for the business by the employer. This could mean that the employee attempts to change payroll records, check amounts, void sales and creates refunds, creates a fake invoice for a service or product and takes the money themselves.
If an employee is skimming, then one way to catch them is by paying close attention to inventory. If your records are not adding up, like one product is running out and there are few receipts for the sale of the product, you may find that the cashier is allowing the customer to purchase it and pocketing the money.
Counting your inventory frequently when you suspect an employee of skimming can help you catch them without needing to ask them if they have stolen from you. Sitting them down after you have found the inconsistencies can give you evidence and make it more likely that they will come clean and admit to their wrongdoing.
You can also increase your security by adding cameras, or more cameras if you already have some. This will allow you to see when a theft might occur. For example, if an employee is taking the cost of the purchase and putting the money in their pocket instead of the register, you will catch this on film.
Watching the employee’s behaviors can also lead to catching them in the act. Employees that often look around to see if you are watching them or those who begin buying more expensive cars, clothes, or jewelry can be a red flag. These could be signs that they are making more than what you are paying them, and they are nervous about getting caught.
Catching the thief allows you to know who to replace, but this doesn’t fix the problem itself. So, instead of learning how to catch an employee after they’re caught stealing from a cash register at work, you should know how to prevent theft from happening in the first place.
Any time you hire someone to work for you, get to know their habits. This will allow you to see when someone is off. If an employee who is always late suddenly starts showing up on time or early, then you can see the change immediately and monitor the situation. Also, if someone who is comfortable around you begin to avoid being close to you, this could be a sign that something is wrong.
Being on top of employees' every move is excessive, and time-consuming, but monitoring them more closely will help you see signs of changes before theft happens. The chances of theft go down when a supervisor is present, so you or another supervisor should be there to prevent the idea from turning into action.
Having an authoritative figure present will help create a sense of responsibility for those who are working. Knowing that someone is there to ensure that things run smoothly will make employees think twice about stealing cash or imploring improper cash handling techniques in order to keep money from entering the cash register.
Also, limiting what an employee can do on the register is one way to keep cash larceny from occurring. Needing a manager to give a refund or void a sale for them will keep them from being able to take money and trying to hide it with these techniques. Also, having the receipts documented on the register and unable to be deleted without a manager’s code can keep employees from being able to toss receipts in order to hide voided or canceled transactions.