To catch a thief

Our client had two warehouses at opposite ends of the country.  They carried similar stock, had similar staffing levels, and were in similar areas (from a demographic point of view), yet one warehouse had a shrinkage (theft) rate way above the others.

On a fairly regular basis, security would catch someone stealing an item or two.  They were interviewed and dismissed.   All the captured thieves said “everybody is doing it”   but they would say that, wouldn’t they?

Despite the monotonous turnover of staff dismissed for theft, the thefts would reduce for a few weeks or months, and then start to increase.  It seemed as though even honest new recruits quickly turned to theft.   Large amounts of money were spent on surveillance and security.

Each individual who was caught was a fairly open and shut case – they were often caught red handed, and many confessed quite freely.    Job done?  Thief removed from the premises?

We had a look at how the security team were questioning the individuals they caught.   They were very focused on  “Do you confess….”.   With a bit of training and support from us, we got them to change the way they asked questions, and what they asked about.  We also helped them to look at the wider pattern of data surrounding the thefts and dismissals that had already taken place.

Outcome

It turned out it was the Warehouse  Manager who was co-ordinating the thefts, recruiting new staff and inducting them into the network.   He was arranging for individuals to be caught, both to punish ‘freelance’ thieves who were not within his protected group, but also to show that he was ‘onto the problem’.

He had a team of subordinates who worked with him, and they were trucking goods out of the warehouse on articulated lorries!

In the year after the Manager’s dismissal, the client saved a million pounds on stock losses alone.

See our previous blog

Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy.
Tel: 08452 303050 Fax: 08452 303060 Website :  www.irenicon.co.uk
You can follow Annabel on Twitter

3 Comments

Filed under discipline and dismissal, employment law, Security, surveillance, Theft

3 responses to “To catch a thief

  1. Pingback: A word to the wise | Employment law in a mad world

  2. Pingback: Theft | laboratory

  3. Pingback: Open and shut | Employment law in a mad world

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