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Annie Hayes

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Thieves at work grab £432m per year

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More than three quarters of workers have stolen from work to the tune of £432m, with everything up for grabs including the office pet.

These are the shocking findings of a private investigator, who found that 78% have stolen from their place of work at some point in their lives. Workers notch up an average £920 worth of stolen items throughout their careers, a figure that equates to nearly £432m per year. The research stipulated that office stationery did not count, and the average was bunked up by many claiming that they have stolen more than £5000 worth of goods.

In further bad news for employers, the 57% who haven’t yet stolen from a place of work admitted they would if they thought that they could get away with it.

According to the research, CCTV is the best deterrent with 38% saying it would put them off taking company property. This was followed by 19% claiming that law involvement would be the one thing to dissuade them, with just 2% worried that their mum would find out.

Jorge Salgado-Reyes, a private investigator, said: “In my line of work, you get used to shocking stories and facts, but these stats make for pretty scary reading. Companies are doing little to stop thefts of these kinds, with very few having deterrents such as monitored CCTV or robust asset management systems in place.

“The theft of confidential personal data has been in the media eye recently and for good reason – more and more companies are securing the services of private investigators like me to detect people committing often large-scale criminal acts of these kinds.

“It just goes to show that in today’s Britain, you really don’t know who you can trust.”

Amongst the stolen items anonymously detailed in the comprehensive survey were large sums of cash, alcohol, furniture, computer equipment and even one boss’s desk.

One Response

  1. The first line of defence
    Theft from the workplace is just the tip of the employee-threat iceberg. Staff perpetrate half of fraud committed against companies (source: BDO) and infiltration by terrorists and other criminals contribute to even more dangerous risks.

    Jorge uses his retail experience and his research to (quite rightly) recommend CCTV – already a valuable weapon in retailers’ theft prevention armoury: especially when used in conjunction with systems that share data about known offenders. But how do you deter theft before the employee joins?

    All deterrents tackle the Opportunity facet of the “Fraud Triangle” (the others being Motive and Rationalization). Weaknesses in internal controls create an atmosphere where fraudsters believe they are likely to be successful and undetected (source: KPMG).

    The CIPD and CIFAS (the UK’s fraud prevention service) suggest that employee recruitment checks are the first line of defence. Employers who offer jobs “subject to satisfactory checks”, but then fail to execute those checks invite potential thieves to exploit their perceived weakness.

    Here’s a link to the HR Zone feature: Human risk management: Are you in the know? It offers several tips to help build this first line of defence.

    David Chernick
    Reed Screening

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