Picture this…You are the owner of a thriving grooming salon that also has huge retail sales.  You and your staff are busy all of the time – with grooming slots that are filled days, or even weeks ahead.  There is a steady stream of customers in and out of your retail area.  But, something is wrong.  You are busier than ever, yet – your cash flow does not reflect that increase in business. And, to top it off, you are experiencing inventory losses.  Now what?

No one wants to think that their trusted staff members would steal from them, but it happens every day. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reports that employee theft is the ‘fastest growing crime in America’. According to Jack L. Hayes International, a loss prevention consulting firm, in 2014, one in every 38 employees was apprehended for theft from their employer.  And, it was found that dishonest employees steal over six times the amount as shoplifters.

Why would an employee want to steal from their employer?  There are many reasons, but one of the main ones is that they think that they can easily get away with it.  And, the more employees that you have, the greater the risk that you and your business will become a target.

Some employees have an attitude of entitlement.  They may feel that they are not being paid enough or that they are overworked.  When they decide to take something that is yours, they justify it to themselves by thinking: “I deserve this”.

A thief in your grooming salon may start off small, with an occasional bottle of shampoo or a brush. But, if the opportunity presents itself, they will become bold and your $400 pair of scissors will vanish. All of your groomers should engrave their initials or other identifying marks on all of their equipment.  Having a lockable tool cart for each work station will lessen the chance of expensive tools and equipment disappearing.

Thieves can be very creative.  They will conceal merchandise in a trash bag full of pet hair, throw it in the dumpster – and then retrieve it later.  You can deter these thefts by simply using clear trash bags. If you have staff members working in your retail department, there are several ways to prevent losses there:

Use the buddy system.  Theft is more likely to happen when one employee is alone in the store or at the register.  And, you should always have any refunds and voided sales witnessed by a manager or yourself.

It’s never a good idea for employees to ring up purchases for themselves or their relatives.  A common type of employee theft is known as ‘sweethearting’.

Sweethearting is the unauthorized giving of merchandise to a ‘sweetheart’ customer – a friend, family member, or a co-worker.  The employee operating the cash register can do things like void purchases, do price overrides, or avoid scanning certain items.

A receipt should be provided for every transaction – whether it is a retail sale or for grooming.  If the receipts are numbered, it is less likely that one will be destroyed and the employee can simply pocket the cash.

Never leave a cash register unlocked or unattended.  Require that the cash drawer be closed after every transaction.  Limit the amount of cash that is kept in each register, and use a drop-safe when you exceed that amount.

Install security cameras throughout your entire facility.  If you have ever been in a bank or a casino, you know that they have surveillance cameras everywhere.  And, their purpose is not just to watch the customers – it’s also to keep a constant eye on the employees.

Employee theft of gift cards is also growing, in part because they are much easier to conceal than merchandise. Preventing theft before it happens is your best defense against employees who have sticky fingers. When they know that they are being observed, they are far less likely to steal from you.

Internal theft can happen in any business, but, it has become an increasingly common problem for many in the pet care industry. It has often been said that ‘the best defense is a good offense’.  If you can make it more difficult for thieves to commit these crimes, and, if they know that you will prosecute them, they may decide that stealing from you is just not worth it.