21 Ways to Prevent Warehouse Theft
Warehouse theft has been a matter of concern for a long time. Large amounts of stock in a vast space make these areas an easy target. Minor disparities can go unseen and lead to high losses in the long run.
Curiously, the prime source of theft is not external but its own employees. Internal theft is ever on the rise, and this can be a result of:
- Ill feelings towards the company.
- The need to seize an opportunity.
- Financial Instability or stress.
In simple terms, workers steal because they can. Warehouses all across the globe lose massive profits as a result of theft. And it only grows with time! On that account, you must protect the facility from both, internal and external sources of theft.
Know that getting the right attitude in place is just as vital as setting up the best security systems. Following are 21 best practices that you can deploy to cut down on theft in your facility.
1. Protect the Borders
The most basic part of securing your facility is to create a barrier. A barrier that distinguishes between the outside and your property keeps your premise out of access. The easier it is to access, the more likely it is to conduct theft.
Usually, the simplest way is to use a fence. But fencing alone is not enough. Bright lights, CCTV cameras, access gates are some other ways to keep thieves at bay.
You can also use License Plate Recognition (LPR) to avoid the entry of unofficial vehicles. They make use of a camera and a whitelist to read plates and record entries.
It is best to invest in a high-quality system that can integrate various levels of security. Better systems will note and alert the police without any delay in case of a breach.
2. Secure the Entrance
Sturdy doors and locks with strong frames are a must for all points of entry. But to maintain them is just as essential as to install them. You need to make sure that no damage comes to the core material, hinges, frames, or locks. Bolts and screws are just as vital and should be tightly fit.
The use of rolling steel shutters against doors and windows can make intrusion more difficult. You must also make sure to lock and cross-check each entrance before winding down.
Cameras should focus on all activity near all entry points – doors or windows. They instil a sense of fear of getting caught, which stops many. Else, they help identify the culprits behind theft too.
3. Create More Barriers
While doors and windows are also a form of barrier, there are more levels you can install. The more barriers there are, the harder it is to trespass. A great example is to set up bars against windows, making it harder to break in. In the same way, glass-break detectors or motion sensors can trigger alerts on intruders, securing the premise.
Another way to restrict flow is to keep one door for entry and one for exit. It limits and controls activity, making it easier to monitor. This aids in spotting intruders or any attempts to sneak out with goods.
Just the same, you must also protect and lock areas like fire exits, roof hatches, and skylights.
4. Install CCTV Cameras
CCTV cameras help keep an eye on every nook and corner of your facility. They must span the entire area and leave no blind spots.
The best place for cameras is to cover the high-risk areas first. Hard-to-reach corners are a usual point of theft and must be in direct sight of a camera.
Make sure to invest in high-quality cameras and data storage. You would want to have access to recent footage to note theft. Checking the footage from time to time can help observe acts that you may have missed out on before.
5. Use Alarm Systems
Alarms help notify theft at the right time to prevent loss and catch the culprit. Alarm systems come in many types. They can either be loud or silent, each playing its role in your security setup.
A silent alarm helps police or security arrive at the scene without giving the thief time to escape in a rush. Other types such as motion sensors or glass break detectors help alert intrusions.
The use of spotlights with alarms can instantly light up in case of theft. Another common add-on is a safety fog. It leaks a dense fog, buying security the time to arrive.
6. Light the Area Up
Blind spots are the hub of theft. Dimly lit areas are easy spots for thieves to slide items out and get away with it.
A well-lit area makes it easy to spot and identify theft. It also makes it more unlikely for people to want to indulge in theft. Not only so, but a well-lit area also provides better visibility for CCTVs to capture and record better.
7. Do A Background Check
To prevent internal theft, you first need to make the right hires. An employee's approach and attitude towards their work can act as early red flags.
You can avoid the wrong hires if you conduct a proper background check on each applicant. You can check up with their ex-employers or look into their criminal records to get the insight you need.
You can also try to dig out their feelings towards previous employers. This can often give away their true colors and help assess their approach to work.
Humans can sense when something is fishy – use that instinct. If something doesn't fit right, it is best to just not hire them. A credible hire always comes first.
8. Check Employee Performance
You will not always make the perfect hire. Even if you do, people and their state of affairs can change with time. A great way to keep an eye out for members that pose a threat is to keep a constant check on how they perform.
You can assess performance daily or weekly, but you must do it often. It is unreal to be able to keep an eye on every employee. This can help narrow down your focus to the few who are the most likely to commit theft.
In most cases, it is often the under-performing ones who are most likely to fall into the act. It can either be a result of ill will or stress.
9. Have Employees Look out for Theft
While managers cannot always be around staff, workers are always around each other. A great way to check up is to let them take over the task. To do so, you can set up channels for staff to report any wary activity without giving away their names.
Such channels can fill in fear among thieves. Since peers are much more likely to catch them, they are less likely to indulge in theft.
Moreover, theft is often not a one-man act. Many devious staff members can form a group and assist in theft. A channel can rule out that chance since there will not be much trust among the members.
Rotating shifts and placing your most loyal staff with suspects can also help curb such groups or theft in general.
10. No Tolerance Policy
To stop theft, you must first adopt a strict approach to it. Each member of staff should be well aware that you will not take theft lightly. Such actions must have serious outcomes, and that you will make no exceptions for it.
Do not just offer words, but also display them. Get your workers to sign a code of conduct that they must always follow. Such a deed can reflect how serious you are. Having a no-tolerance policy can help keep the entire staff aware of their work duties.
There can also be multiple subsets within the policy. You can make it a rule for employees to report suspects on solid grounds.
11. Look for Patterns
A simple way to draw out people that pose a threat is to study patterns. Suspects and missing stock will often be in line or form a recurring pattern. These can be in the form of person, place, or time.
With every theft, note down its location and check up with the shift register. Looking up the person on duty at the time an item went missing can point you to the culprit. These will be the ones you may want to monitor more often.
In the same way, if you notice a pattern at the place of theft, that area may need better security.
12. Set up an Access Control System
Access Control Systems help track and limit the flow of staff, especially in high-risk areas..
An ACS will comprise credentials, readers, control panels, and door locks. Your staff will make use of credentials such as a smartcard, code pin, or biometric to enter certain areas.
The reader checks the unique ID for approval before it permits entry. It only allows access to those on a stored list. While this is a great way to keep intruders out, it will also store the activity of your workers. In case of theft, you can search its database to look for the ones in the area at the time of theft.
Biometrics is one of the most secure methods to use. Unlike keys or cards, no one can forge or misplace them. If you catch the guilty, they cannot use such excuses to get away with the act. The extra level of security keeps employees away from carrying out theft, as they must take the blame for their own metrics.
13. Track Inventory
Tracking stock with modern-day tools helps identify missing items much sooner and in time for action. The use of Inventory Management Software along with RFID tags or scanners can make it easier to view or store and faster to track. They allow you to track the flow of each item from the start to the end of the supply chain process without much human effort.
It also records data more accurately. In some cases, it may help you identify and set apart goods lost by theft from other causes of shrinkage. Make sure to opt for a cloud-based version to protect and transfer your data seamlessly.
Like physical space, you must also secure data. Staff that engages in theft can alter data to suit their benefits, making it harder for you to notice missing goods in time. As a result, there is a dire need to limit access to what they can do with data. To solve the issue, some POS systems employ user permissions. With this feature, some data and tasks can only reach and remain in the hands of managers or trusted employees.
14. Increase Visibility
Tracking your stock can only make the flow of goods clear in view. But using a WMS can offer visibility of the entire process. It makes you more aware of what goes on within the facility and will also swiftly notify you of any absent items. Even so, it must connect to other tools and systems to offer more clarity.
Like so, a security system that merges access control, alarms, cameras, and data under one platform is better than sole units. A mobile version of the same can offer a desk-free approach to keeping an eye on stock and staff on the go.
The idea of visibility also extends to knowing each worker. It is much easier for people to get away with theft when no one recognizes another. Since it is not viable for a manager to know all, you can have workers wear badges, uniforms, or ID cards to tackle the problem.
15. Use Drones
The use of drones makes cycle counting fast and easy. Accurate cycle counts and stock takes are crucial parts of finding out about absent goods at any stage of the process. The best part is that drones do not need humans to assist them.
You need to take counts daily or weekly to spot theft in time. Drones do not only make this easier, but they are also more reliable. Using a drone ensures that the figures are correct. On the other hand, leaving the task up to your staff grants them the capacity to manipulate numbers and get away with theft.
Drones will also keep the data up to date at all times. They directly send it to the WMS, which then notifies any gaps in the record.
16. Seal and Hide
Seals are a great way to ensure that each package is complete and intact. With a robust process to seal and check cartons in storage, the chances of theft can notably go down.
Blind or random picks are also an effective strategy. When the staff is not aware of what might come next, they are less likely to cross the bar. Blind picks induce a greater risk for thieves and deter them from taking part in the crime.
Also, thieves tend to take away small items that are easy to hide and sneak out. The use of larger sealed cartons makes it harder to access such products.
17. Organize Goods Better
A more subtle practice is to just organise the space better. It is a piece of cake to misplace or slide items away with no notice in a chaotic or messy place. On the flip side, well-sorted areas help spot an oddity or out of place items with ease..
You need to allot an area for empty boxes or trash. If mixed with stock, thieves can slide out stock as waste and not seem wary. This can also occur if entry and exit areas are too close to each other. It is best to set them notably apart to avoid theft in a warehouse.
You can also extend this idea to systems and processes. Like so, you must assort all checking procedures. A simple way is to keep track of inbounds and outbounds along with their seals and paperwork.
The better organized it all is, the easier it is to spot any gaps in the stock count or attempts to sneak out goods.
18. Adopt Zoning
Another way to organize the space better is to adopt zoning. The layout of the warehouse should have strict zones for each task or storage area. You can separate each zone via barriers or by keeping the proper distance. It will enhance your clarity in sight to note and observe each activity from afar.
Make sure that the practice of zoning extends to both the interior and the exterior. Cargo doors, pick fences, or storage areas should be a good ten feet away from each other. Visitors, even truck drivers, should have a separate zone to seat or rest. To avoid theft, do not permit outsiders to lurk around the stock.
Similarly, parking areas for visitors should be separate. Do not leave visitors alone to roam around in the facility. Cross-docks also need to have a specific area where their activities are kept note of. Zoning limits each worker to their area and holds them liable for what goes wrong.
19. Hire Security Personnel
Trained security crew is an intrinsic part of checking and keeping an eye around. Having them at entry and exit gates to inspect ensures that no one can carry goods outside the premises. You can also get them to patrol across the facility and check up on staff or visitors.
An even better way to catch staff with ill intent is to have undercover officers. With security dressed as a part of the team, you can get them to monitor activity without anyone taking notice. They can then pull out all the members that threaten warehouse security.
20. Conduct Daily Security Checks
An obvious way to keep theft in check is to have security inspect the facility daily. These checks can be informed or random. Before shutting down the warehouse, a set process to check and a final cycle count are a must.
Inspecting on random days once in a while will also stop staff from trying their hand at theft. These security checks make it unlikely for those aware of procedures to indulge in such acts.
21. Use Multiple Data Sources
Using multiple softwares like Dock Scheduling Software, Warehouse Management System, Accounting Software, Time and Attendance Software, etc and regularly reconciling data from each can be also be a great way to check warehouse theft from growing out of control.