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Sonitrol Commercial Security Blog ... by Joe Wilson



Employee Theft? 7 Ways it Could be Happening in Your Restaurant

Posted by Joe Wilson

Nov 23, 2022 1:44:27 PM

Employee Restaurant theftNobody wants to believe that their employees would steal from them but it’s a common problem at many bars and restaurants. In fact, the National Restaurant Association says that 75 percent of inventory shortages are due to employee theft.

When thinking about theft at restaurants, most owners and managers jump right to staff stealing from their till or taking food home with them. But there are many other ways your staff can steal from you, especially with an increasing number of people starting to pay with cash again after the pandemic.

With that in mind, here are some of the top ways in which your employees might be stealing from your business, as well as some advice on how you can prevent employee theft through a robust security solution

The fake walkout 

Walkouts certainly happen but some employees will fake a walkout to pocket the cash. The most common way to fake a walkout is to bring the customer their bill, take cash payment immediately and then head off to another part of the restaurant until the customer leaves. They then walk back to the table to find the customers have left and tell their boss it was a walkout. 

Swap outs 

Another common way for employees to steal from you is to serve and collect money for the correct meal then input a cheaper menu item into the POS and pocket the difference. 

To help encourage customers to pay in cash, employees will sometimes fake a system failure and tell customers they can’t accept debit or credit when the manager is out of earshot. If the customer doesn’t have cash, they will just pretend that the machine is miraculously working again. 

Voiding orders 

Sometimes employees (who can void orders or in partnership with someone who can) will void transactions paid in cash throughout the night. They will then pocket the money. If you don’t check the number of voids each night, this scam can go completely unnoticed. 

Inventory theft 

When an employee takes food and inventory from your business, they are increasing your costs. The most common ways to steal inventory is by: 

  • Snacking on food during their shift 
  • Taking food home 
  • Giving free meals to family and friends 
  • Stealing other supplies like toilet paper, dishes or cleaning supplies 
  • Stealing bottles of alcohol 

Accounting fraud 

It isn’t just servers and kitchen staff that steal from restaurants. Administrative staff also have several techniques for taking money from your business. This includes: 

  • Voiding transactions 
  • Canceling cheques 
  • Underreporting earnings 
  • Creating fake payable accounts 

Time theft 

This theft isn’t related to physical property but wages. It happens when employees arrive late, leave early or take long breaks while you are compensating them. This form of fraud is harder to spot because you must catch your employee in the act. 

Bar theft

Bars are especially susceptible to theft. Not only do you have to worry about fake walkouts, inventory theft, voids and swap out, you also have to watch for: 

  • Over pouring for friends and family 
  • Undercharging or giving comp drinks for larger tips
  • Adding water to alcohol so inventory levels match records 
  • Charging premium prices but ringing in lower cost brands 
  • Recording false spills 
  • Under pouring and then keeping cash for every X drinks 
  • Re-pouring leftovers from bottles and selling to customers by the glass for cash 

How to prevent employee theft in restaurants 

There are several ways to prevent employee theft in your restaurant. This includes doing inventory counts more frequently and fostering a positive corporate culture. You can also implement better internal procedures to deter theft, such as: 

  • Ensuring you have enough staff on busy days so that your team doesn’t get overwhelmed. If you are understaffed, you can increase the risk of errors and provide an opportunity for staff members to steal. 
  • Not letting staff share tills. This can provide your employees with an opportunity to steal cash without you knowing who caused the shortage. 
  • Requiring manager approval before an employee can override a price, void a transaction or refund a product. That way they can ensure every step was followed. 
  • Not allowing staff to transact with family members and friends. When possible, have related customers deal with a different staff member or a manager. 
  • Providing proper supervision of staff to ensure that they are working during working hours and not taking advantage of your business. 

More importantly, you should install security systems that will protect you from both internal and external crime. 

To help stop employee theft you should install a verified security system. This will give you oversight of your business even when you can’t be there. And it won’t only deter employee theft but prevent customer theft and other crimes, as well as increase your staff and business's safety in an emergency. 

As an additional layer of security, you could also implement physical access control. This includes locking high risk or high value items up and limiting who can get to them. One of the best ways to manage physical access is through keyless entry. 

Keyless entry limits employee access to specific rooms or spaces, while also minimizing the risk and cost associated with lost or stolen keys as access can be turned off digitally. Not only that but its unique reporting system will ensure you know which employees were in which room at any given time. You’ll know exactly who committed a crime, and when it was committed.

As an added bonus, keycards will track when employees check in/out and enter/leave the premises so that you don’t have to depend on them to provide the correct time card information. 

Are you interested in enhancing your restaurant security? Book a free security plan with Sonitrol Western Canada today

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Topics: Restaurant Security

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Joe Wilson, Owner of Sonitrol Western Canada

We provide our customers with the best commercial security solutions and quality service backed by our unique Guarantee and Commitment to Service. It's something unverified conventional alarm companies simply cannot guarantee!

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