Employee theft investigations were probably my most challenging and enjoyable job functions as a Loss Prevention Manager. Difficult cases could take weeks of surveillances, report monitoring, video reviews and putting in long work days. Sometimes Checkpoint Security Systems were helpful in conducting the investigations as I could watch for employees deactivating Checkpoint Tags on merchandise when no customer was nearby. I could also see if a Checkpoint antenna light flashed (our antennas had an audible alert and a visual alert built in) when an employee exited the building, confirming if they may have had stolen merchandise on their person. While the investigations could take time and be intense, the dishonest employee interviews could be short and/or occasionally humorous. In this second part of my series I will share an additional internal case that closed on a funny note.
To clarify a little first I want the readers to know what makes up Checkpoint Security Systems. Systems include electronic article surveillance (EAS) antennas, Checkpoint tags and labels, deactivation units that “turn-off” the ability of a tag to set off an antenna and detachment keys to remove hard tags from merchandise. When used together these tools provide superior merchandise protection to stop shoplifting and deter theft.
One memorable case I had involved a return desk associate who had only been employed for a few weeks. Frequently I made a point to watch new employees after giving them some time to get acclimated to the new job. I also watched areas where the potential for theft and fraud was greatest. The return desk could be one of those areas. There are fewer employees or supervisors walking behind the desk so a cashier is not as concerned with intrusions as they are at the front checklanes. This service desk employee was taking back returns but I happened to notice that after she did some returns and the customer had left, she examined some items very closely, especially jewelry. Some of the items returned still had Checkpoint tags on them from when they were purchased, but the tags were no longer useful because they had been de-tuned at the time of purchase. I continued to watch this employee for the next several days she worked and began to see her remove pieces of small jewelry from a return bin and place them in her pocket. She would then go on a break or leave for the day with the pilfered merchandise.
I eventually had plenty of evidence and the approval to do a dishonest employee interview. The day I decided to interview, I watched the employee hide several pieces of jewelry, including a pair of earrings and a chain bracelet in her socks. I went to the service desk, and asked the employee to come with me to an office I had set up for the interview. I usually would have had another manager escort the employee, but in this case I did not want to give an opportunity for the merchandise to be dumped. We arrived at the office and we sat down. I introduced myself and began my interview. I normally followed a specific routine, but in this situation I stopped myself and told the employee that before we went any further I needed her to give me the earrings she had in her left sock. The woman’s mouth almost hit the floor. She stammered for a moment and when I felt she might need a little more coaxing I told her she could give me the bracelet from her other sock as well. At that point, the suspect turned over the items and a few more things I did not know she had in her pockets. The rest of the interview went smoothly with a full admission and a promissory note for the merchandise she had already taken home. She also got to wear a set of bracelets, but not the ones she wanted.
Let me close with this thought, Checkpoint Security Systems are invaluable in keeping shortage low and profits high. They do work to stop shoplifting and deter all kinds of theft. Remember, it is important to ensure all equipment works and there are procedures in place to get returned merchandise protected as soon as possible with Checkpoint tags and labels. Also, don’t neglect to monitor your return desk as well as your checklanes. Regular walks and random audits can help ensure employees aren’t tempted to engage in dishonest activity.
Checkpoint Security Systems are important and we can help you with it. Call 1.866.914.2567.