How to Reduce Employee Theft in Retail Stores

Managing a retail store is quite challenging, even for highly trained professionals. There are many things to watch and strategies to implement to make the business successful. Also, dealing with customers comes with some challenges. They return goods that may turn out to be the company’s loss. Sadly, the business also loses revenue to employee theft.

While implementing measures to grow a successful business, it is essential to find ways to reduce employee theft in retail businesses.

What is Employee Theft in Retail Businesses?

The best way to describe the situation is when employees hired to work in a retail environment steal product or money from their employers. These unfaithful people find ways to remove valuable items from the business environment without the HR manager or their superiors knowing a theft has happened.

Employee theft can become a trend, which is quite sad because the retail business may collapse if it continues. When employees find a loophole in the system, they may leverage the error to continue stealing. The best thing they should have done is to report the loophole to HR managers and supervisors who can close the gap to prevent theft and losses.

Who Can Steal from Retail Businesses?

Sadly, anyone employed as a worker in the retail space can start stealing. The temptation to make quick money is difficult to resist. Therefore, it is essential to find ways to reduce shrinkage in retail stores.

We have seen cases where the top managers in a retail store have been caught stealing from the business. Also, staff directly involved in sales or accounting can steal from the business. In addition, cleaners can take stuff without authorization.

Knowing that anyone can become greedy and start stealing from the business, it is best to focus on implementing the best methods to reduce employee theft in retail stores.

Why Do Retail Employees Steal from the Business?

There are many reasons for this sad situation. HR managers must have heard so many excuses from people who were caught stealing. Here are some of the reasons why people working in retail stores steal:

Poor Monitoring Systems

In an ideal situation, every employee in the retail environment should be monitored to ensure they are meeting set targets. The checks should also ensure they are working as expected. However, some employers fail to hire professionals for this task. Also, it could be that the people responsible for monitoring employees are not performing their duties.

Consequently, employees realize they are free to do anything and may start stealing.

Inadequate Security Protocols

It is essential to install security equipment in the retail store. These cameras and restricted doors help check the activities of everyone in the store. Employees who know they are not being watched will be tempted to steal.

Also, some businesses do not have rules that prevent employees from bringing bags into the retail space. They can put stuff into bags and take them away, unknown to the supervisor.

Greed and Dishonesty

Some employees are dishonest and greedy. These people will steal anything they can lay their hands on. It is unfortunate to have such employees because they will continue stealing until you catch them in the act.


Your employee will try to steal at some point if they have an addiction. Then they use the money to buy drugs or anything they are addicted to. Buying illegal substances is expensive, they may consider stealing from the business with the intention of selling the goods.

Failure to Secure a Raise

When employees realize you are not willing to give them a raise, they may start stealing from the retail business. These employees steal because they believe it is their right. They are seemingly taking what belongs to them after many years of service.

However, it is a big crime and can put them in jail. There is no reason to steal from the workplace. Instead, it is best to address all issues.

What to Do After Discovering Who Stole

If you discover theft in the workplace, you must do everything to find out who is stealing. It is essential to reduce shrinkage in retail stores because the idea may spread, and others will start stealing.

It is best to fire any employee you catch stealing from the business. Depending on the situation, you may take further legal steps like involving the police. However, those caught stealing should stop working at the store immediately.

Tips to Reduce Employee Theft in Retail Stores

If you notice theft in a retail store, you should act quickly because you don’t know the thief’s next plan. Also, it is best to implement several measures to prevent theft if it has not started already.

The following tips should help you reduce shrinkage in retail stores:

Review Your Recruitment Process

You should have a proper recruitment structure that identifies and removes candidates with unwanted traits from the system. It is best if your recruitment process involves some form of check to ensure the candidate does not have a criminal history. Also, you should check for signs of debt and other criminal tendencies.

Ask for Referrals from Previous Employers

You should make it mandatory for all potential employees to present an authentic referral from their previous bosses. These documents will contain information about their past work experiences. This is another excellent way to avoid hiring employees who may start stealing from the business.

You can also request to communicate with the employer. Consider calling them on the phone or sending email. Ask about the candidate and their performance. Also, you should ask if they are honest. The previous employer may mention if they have been dishonest while working.

However, the employees may start stealing in your retail environment even if they did not steal at their old jobs. Therefore, you should do other things to reduce employee theft in retail stores. Continue reading for more tips.

Install Cameras in the Retail Store

You can discourage theft in the retail store by installing the best surveillance cameras. These are simple monitoring devices that can work in all retail stores. However, they have different operating features. Therefore, it is essential to buy cameras with features most suitable for your business. For example, you should get cameras that work for long periods without failing. Also, they should have a large storage medium to keep video recordings for reference.

Proper Bookkeeping

Monitoring sales and records is another way to reduce shrinkage in retail stores. When the employees know their theft may be discovered quickly, they will be less interested in stealing from the store.

Thankfully, many intelligent bookkeeping tools and apps monitor your sales and other essential records. Use these innovative tools, and inform employees that you check everything about their sales and financial records.

Monitor Inventory

Many businesses that ignore inventory monitoring discover theft too late. Most times, the employee may have left the job, or too many things are missing. You can avoid such situations.

It is best to implement a system that allows you to monitor inventory regularly. This helps you discover missing items quickly. You can act quickly to prevent further theft.

Be Involved in the Business

Once in a while, take a walk around the retail store. Make your presence felt. This is another good way to reduce employee theft in retail stores. Employees will feel less interested in stealing when they know you are actively involved in the daily management processes.

That means there is a high chance their theft will be discovered quickly. The idea is to ensure everyone is working as expected. Therefore, people in charge of monitoring inventory and sales will be more efficient and quickly notice missing items.

Follow a Fair Promotion Structure

Every employee who works hard should be promoted at the right time. Also, these promotions should include increased salaries, according to your structure.

If you ignore the need to increase salaries and promote your employees, they may react. These employees can start stealing from the company to get what they believe you owe them.

Create a System for Whistle Blowing

Some faithful employees may notice another staff is stealing but cannot report the theft. These employees are usually afraid that they will be regarded as bad people for betraying their colleague who is stealing.

Creating a system that allows employees to report theft discreetly will help reduce employee theft in retail stores.

However, you must do a proper investigation to ensure the accusations are true before firing the employee caught stealing.

Make Employees Working in Pairs

You can also reduce shrinkage in retail stores by making employees work in pairs or groups. This makes it harder for them to steal from the company. Working in pairs also helps improve productivity and increase accountability. Both people are responsible for the tasks, and they ensure the returns are accurate to avoid shortages.


Discovering theft while managing a team can be frustrating. However, you can do several things to reduce employee theft in retail stores.

The trick is to act quickly and use the best tools to monitor the employees while they work. Also, review your recruitment process if you consistently experience stealing in the workplace.

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