If you’ve been in business long enough, I’m sure you realize that there is a steady stream of people who want to steal from you. It’s like there is this endless line of dishonest people out there. Not a single day goes by that I’m not dealing with a customer trying to rip me off, or closing another employee theft investigation. If you could come up with a way to steal from my company, chances are, I’ve terminated an employee for that very same thing.
Not too long ago I was investigating a shortage of handgun ammunition at one of my store locations. If you hunt, or shoot for recreation, you’re probably well aware that .22 caliber ammunition is hard to find. For whatever reason, there seems to be a higher demand than supply, so it’s like gold. My store would receive anywhere between 50-100 cases a day and would usually sell right through it by noon. I got a call from the store manager that said he was short about two thousand cases, almost a month’s supply. The store recently took an inventory and noticed the shortages for the first time.
Already, I was a month behind. It was anyone’s guess where this ammunition had gone to. The first thing I did was look at the shipping manifests and matched it to the inventory system. Everything was matching up and I was positive the merchandise had made it into the store and behind the ammunition counter. This led me to believe the ammo had been stolen. Since it was not accessible to customers, I was pretty sure I had an employee theft problem. This is where my case dried up.
I spent days reviewing video footage of the warehouse and the sales floor. I couldn’t find a single bit of evidence that proved my internal theft theory. With little to go and no video, I had to put the case on the back burner. I wasn’t ready to close it out, but I had to move on. I did have 25 other stores to support. It’s how it goes sometimes.
A few months went by and I found myself conducting an audit of this store location. As I was walking in their receiving area, I noticed some clay targets (those oranges disks you shoot at for fun), in the garbage can. I found it strange since it seemed to be an entire case and they weren’t broken. Figuring an employee had thrown an entire case out for one, or two broken targets, I went to the cameras in order to correct the mistake with the employee. I was able to see an employee dump the box of targets, but then go off camera view for awhile, before leaving with the box slung over his shoulder.
I looked at sales of clay targets for the day and the only purchase was for that employee. In fact, that employee had purchased a box of clay targets every day he worked for the past 6 weeks. This was strange. I knew he was putting something in the boxes after the targets were emptied, but I had no idea what. I decided to extend my visit and come back the next day. Thieves, I find, are creatures of habit. As he did for the past 6 weeks, this employee purchased a box of clay targets again. As he left the store, I asked him to come to the office with me. To my surprise, when I opened the box… 100 cases of .22 ammunition. I had closed my employee theft investigation.
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