Workplace theft: how surveillance signs can help

Employers want to trust their employees. It creates a better working environment when those who work together can also get along and trust one another. Employee theft, and the loss of trust that results from it, can have a detrimental effect on work relationships and workplace morale.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that "75 percent of all employees steal at least once, and that half of these steal at least twice." Retails stores are particularly vulnerable to employee thefts. Because those who work in retail stores are more knowledgeable about security cameras and surveillance measures in order to prevent customer theft, retail employees can more easily steal company property. In fact, an estimated 44 to 47 percent of retail losses can be attributed to employee theft. Although employers might find it impolite and offensive to install theft prevention signs and security cameras, statistics demonstrate that it is effective at preventing loss. Cameras and signs should be placed in strategic locations to discourage individuals who have any inkling of stealing.

Stolen items might not even be those that one would first think of as being easily accessible or even desirable. Anything from office supplies such as power cables and paper, which aren’t usually inventoried, to items of significant financial importance, such as personal electronics or even sensitive identity information, can be stolen. Particularly in dealing with these smaller-scale thefts, that can nonetheless add up, it’s a good idea to create a widely-distributed policy so that employees are aware that workplace theft, when it’s committed by employees of the company, is treated with zero tolerance. Employers should make sure the policy explains exactly what constitutes theft, and the company can even implement an anonymous tip system if the problem that widespread.

It’s not just employees who can be involved in workplace theft. A small business owner whose company doesn’t interact with the public as often as a major retailer might feel more secure with their trusted employees, but outside visitors to the business, such as maintenance people or contractors or even clients, can commit theft when they think they are acting unobserved. It’s impossible to visually monitor all those who enter an office, but installing surveillance cameras helps business owners feel secure about those moments where visitors or guests are otherwise unobserved. And by displaying anti-theft notices and signs that inform all those who enter that they are being monitored while in the public areas of the offices, a business owner can prevent that kind of opportunistic theft.

In the long run, investing in security monitoring, making sure that the places they’re surveilling are within the bounds of the law, can save employers and business owners from the significant time and effort pursuing those who have stolen company property. And remember, you don’t need to invest in an expensive and difficult-to-maintain security program in every corner of your business; often by simply posting conspicuous signs advertising the presence of security cameras, the potential thief can be deterred even without the camera pointed in his or her direction.

CCTV Monitoring It’s difficult to implement steps to prevent or reduce theft in the workplace, while still making sure your employees feel trusted and valued. It’s a delicate balance!