March 22, 2011
For various reasons, employees steal from their employers. We will stay away from the causes and or reasons in this article and stick to the most common ways employees steal. In most cases when detected, prosecution is under the same laws as shoplifting, theft. It is very rare for a prosecutor to charge an employee with embezzlement. A necessary element of that charge is that the employee was entrusted with the money or merchandise and then took it with the intent to deprive. Rarely in a retail environment is cash or merchandise entrusted to an employee.
Employee's stealing from their employer ranks up there in total dollars next to shoplifting. Whether it is the number one or number two contributer to the total shortage number has been debated for years. Which ever camp you are in, the frequency and dollars are staggering. Below are some of the most common ways employees steal...
- Act like a shoplifter. Employees will conceal items in the stockroom or in their department and exit the store. Often they are concealed in a store's bag to appear like a regular purchase. Often, merchandise is "thrown out with the trash" and retrieved later. A formal style of "dumpster diving".
- Call their friends and assist them in knowing when loss prevention is not in the store or members of management are busy off the floor that day. Very low risk option for the employee and can severely impact a store's shortage number.
- Theft of time by showing up late for their shift and letting their time card reflect an earlier start.
- Theft of margin dollars. This can be when an employee marks items down below the appropriate price point. This can be for friends, relatives or just plain laziness.
- Theft at the registers. Cash theft, passing merchandise to friends, void manipulation, refund fraud, the list goes on and on. Thank god for exception reporting, cctv and a new product from Scan Cam to help detect "sweet hearting" at the registers.
- * Worker's compensation fraud....this involves faking an injury or reporting an injury that occurred at home and allowing the company to pay for it.
No matter how you slice the situation, shoplifting by employees is theft and will be charged under the same laws. The consequences can be huge and last for years. Try getting a job in the government when you have been convicted of grand theft when you were 18.
Steve Degener, J.D.
LPDT, LLC provides the only on line training program how to become an LP Detective at www.LPDetective.com and offers a FREE job and resume board for Loss Prevention at www.LPjobsFREE.com. You can follow us on Twitter under LP Detective and on Facebook under Loss Prevention Community.
March 14, 2011
Often when students attend one of our shoplifting classses, they have already gone through a very traumatic experience. They were usually arrested for theft, shoplifting or petty larceny. Maybe they were booked and maybe they had to spend some time in jail before they were bailed out.
But now they have to face the actual charges. What did they do wrong? They know that theft or shoplifting is "illegal" but what specifically is restricted by state laws, they aren't totally sure. They also don't know if they might be convicted of a misdemeanor or felony and how much potential jail time they might be looking at it. Sometimes it can be quite helpful to know because they can possibly work with the court or their attorneys on a good strategy to deal with the potential violation.
A local criminal attorney should know the ins and outs of the theft laws, but if they have a public defender, that lawyer might not have the time to answer all their questions. So it's better to be prepared before talking to a lawyer and certainly before facing the judge.
Beyond the possible criminal penalties, I often have students ask me what are the civil penalties. Meaning if they shoplifted an item what can the shopkeeper do to them? Believe it or not, states have quite different penalties.
This is why we've created a resource, the State Theft Law Guide. This easy to navigate guide tells you exactly what the laws are in your state so you have full knowledge if you are involved in legal situation involving theft, shoplifting, or petty larceny. Of course this is only a guide and state laws change all the time, but it can be a useful resource to let you get started.