Staff Dishonesty

Little is known about the true nature and extent of staff dishonesty as many retailers are reluctant to admit that they have a problem and few have systems in place that enable them to detect the level of loss they have suffered. This study is based on interviews with 35 dishonest staff who had been dismissed from two large retailers; the aim being to build a greater understanding of offenders’ experiences of workplace offences and to help fill these gaps in knowledge. More specifically the study was designed to explore issues such as what motivates staff to commit dishonest acts, what skills and resources are used, how security systems in place within the stores in which staff work are perceived and how staff manage these risks. Interviewees in the study had been dismissed for a range of offences including misuse of discount cards, theft of goods and taking cash from the till. The study found that debt and financial problems were key motivations for staff dishonesty, and taking expensive items from the warehouse was considered to be an easier offence than stealing items on the shop floor, largely because there was less security. Attitudes towards security were mixed. For example a lack of adherence to policies and procedures generated opportunities for dishonest staff and the lack of CCTV coverage in some warehouses were identified as a weakness.The findings provide some useful insights to help retailers increase the likelihood of detection and to deter employees from stealing.

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