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Retail Theft: Employee Theft Costs U.S. Retailers More than Shoplifting

Posted on in Theft

retail theft, employee theft, Kane County criminal defense attorneyIn most retail establishments, the battle against retail theft is visibly obvious almost immediately. Strategically placed video cameras, anti-theft packaging, and security tags with their corresponding detectors at the door all seem directly aimed at thwarting would-be shoplifters from leaving the store with merchandise they did not purchase. While such efforts may indeed by necessary, a recent study indicates that retailers may face an even greater threat when it comes to stolen merchandise—their own employees.

Merchandise lost to shoplifting, theft, employee or supplier fraud, and administrative error is referred to as shrink in the retail industry. As retailers around the world and across the country continued their anti-theft efforts last year, The Smart Cube and retail loss-prevention expert Ernie Deyle conducted an annual research project to analyze the effects of shrink on the global retail market. The study, funded by inventory management group Checkpoint Systems, found that lost or undervalued merchandise cost retailers worldwide more than $128 billion USD.

The research examined information reported by more than 220 retailers in 24 countries, who in 2013, combined for more $740 billion in sales. Shoplifting, the study revealed, was the leading cause of shrink in two-thirds of the countries survey, but not, however, in the United States. American retailers reported about $42 billion in shrink for 2014, and employee theft represented nearly 43 percent, or more than $18 billion. Shoplifting cost U.S. companies about $15.7 billion, or a little over 37 percent of all retail shrink.

Researcher Ernie Deyle pointed out that, in many cases, employees may not be outright stealing merchandise. Instead, they may be getting a little help at the register from other employees. "Usually it happens during checkout, when an associate manipulates a transaction to benefit themselves or someone else," he said. This could include canceling transactions, improperly changing prices, or entering non-existing coupons or discount codes. He also noticed a drastic difference in employee behavior in various countries, observing that, in America, turnover in the retail industry is very high, and can lead to very low levels of employee loyalty.

Whether employee theft or shoplifting, retail theft is a serious matter and depending on the value of the merchandise, can be prosecuted as a felony in Illinois. If you or someone you love has been charged with any type of retail theft offense, qualified representation from a skilled lawyer can be extremely important to protecting your future. Contact an experienced Elgin criminal defense attorney today to schedule your free consultation. Our team will work with you to help you understand the options you may have under the law.

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