5 Signs of Employee Theft

Unfortunately, theft plays a role in all aspects of business. Depending on the economic landscape, time of year, and amount of employees, you can almost always expect theft to happen. Customers, employees, and colleagues are all capable of stealing, and it happens all-of-the-time.


75% of Employees admit to stealing, and this is likely a low estimate. Workplace theft comes in all shapes and sizes, so you can expect that the method of choice is always changing. Chances are that fraudsters are coming up with new methods to steal capitol, daily



catching employees stealing

Most cases are obvious, like missing cleaning supplies, overbilling customers, or inaccurate accounting. But fraudsters are always looking for new options, so knowing how to prove what shrinkage might be from theft is tricky. According to this article by CFO Daily News, Joseph Winstead who worked for the USPS was clever. He managed to collect nearly $40,000 in unearned wages by claiming to be on jury duty for 144 days.

stolen supplies

Many companies will not see signs of loss until it is too late, so keeping an extra lookout for suspicious qualities in employees may help eliminate/prevent internal theft from rotting your business, inside out. These 5 signs will help detect theft in your business.


signs of theft

Sign 1 – Inconsistencies

Unlike other types of theft, employees are presented with opportunities to steal, in more ways than one. It can be through time theft, double dipping, padding an expense, overcharging customers, or plain stealing items. With endless possibilities, theft will not stop when you catch one culprit. Business owners who keep an eye out for inconsistencies (profit margins, loss, cash register totals, complaints, etc.) will see the first signs of employee theft taking place. Shrinkage can be devastating for a small business.


employee fraud invoice padding

Sign 2 – Lack of Accountability

Accountability plays a massive role in trusting others. If an employee is lacking in communication skills, it could result in loss. (All people are exposed to a different set of social pressures, so we’re not saying that all accountability issues are automatically a sign of theft, but, it is a major indicator.) If the lack in communication negatively effects your business, then this is worth addressing. These characteristics can be fixed, but when normalized, it can spread to other employees. A workplace that doesn’t correct communication or accountability issues are prone to inaccurate reporting/logging, loss that slips through the cracks, and entitled employees. Wasted time and uncorrected flaws can be fatal for a small business.


Sign 3 – Suspicious Mannerisms

Don’t jump the gun on this one, people have extremely weird mannerisms. This is not an indicator of anything specific, but unusual responses when asked about the issue at hand is worth looking into. A welding company owner, who suspects 3 employees of stealing scrap last week could use this tactic to help determine who stole it. Asking each employee about the scrap, considering any suspicious mannerisms, just might be revealing! Now, we are not experts in human psychology, but most people can tell when another person is uncomfortable. Do not start accusing employees of theft, simply spark a conversation about a concern.


Sign 4 – Defensiveness about the issue

Here is a scenario: Say a retail company is dealing with major and consistent loss. This leads to the store manager doing research with profit margin, expenses, wages, taxes, and all retrievable cost related records. All signs point towards an issue with the accounting department. So consequently, the management team schedules a meeting with the entire accounting department. The accounting department is made aware of the discrepancy and the meeting is resolved. Then the next day, management decides to have one-on-one discussions with each of the accountants. If one lone employee responds defensively, then this is a major indicator of foul play. Another sign of fraud is when a suspected employee is refusing to hand over privileges and tasks to another person. This is typical of those who are working to cover their own tracks. Employees who are stealing and covering it up, have likely developed routines to normalize their actions.

proving employee theft

Sign 5 – Prevention

All situations are different, and ethical employers put in their due diligence when investigating ANY issue. That means repercussion comes after evidence. This section is less of a symptom and more of a solution.

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Hindsight is 2020, we want to prevent issues rather than solve them. Given the statistical chances of employee theft happening, prevention starts in the hiring process. Searching for honest character and sincere qualities is bound to prevent theft more than hiring quickly or in quantities.

Hiring the right people is very important, but keeping the mutual respect between employee and employer is essential. The most talented and dedicated workers can go bitter with time. This results in lack of accountability, lost time, possible theft, etc. Having company morale meetings, setting goals with incentives, and bonding activities will keep people excited to come to work. Allowing the mutual respect to strengthen with growth.

We can’t be everywhere at once, especially when you’re running a company. Surveillance cameras provide a duplicated presence, wherever it is needed. If you were standing over an employee’s shoulder, what are the chances of that employee slipping out for an extra long break? Employees work better, harder, and smarter when being monitored.

If preventing the issue is seemingly impossible, give us a call. Our surveillance specialists have experience in securing small businesses, commercial retail, industrial facilities, and more. Even if you’re not in the market for an NVR, eos is here to help prevent loss in your business.


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eos Business Surveillance Solutions

Flint, Michigan

Phone: (810) 433 - 3308

Website: Nowyoucansee.com

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