Almost one in ten retail employees have committed a crime against their employer in the last 12 months, says new research from G4S Secure Solutions.
According to the report, over 56,000 retail employees admitted to outright theft from their employer in the last 12 months, removing items from a store in which they were working without paying for them.
G4S also warned that unsecured vehicle loading bays are an attractive target as its research shows that over 28,000 retail employees have admitted to stealing goods when in transit to a shop, or between a storage area and the shop floor.
The diversion of goods in the supply chain, from leaving the distributor or manufacturer and before reaching the shop floor, is a major problem for retailers with significant revenues lost each year as a result of merchandise being stolen, said G4S.
Larger retailers were warned to be especially vigilant as many retail employees who have stolen items did so because they felt that as a big retailer it wouldn't matter to them.
Adrian Beck, head of the Department of Criminology at the University of Leicester, said: "In many respects, staff dishonesty is the 500lb gorilla in the corner of the store - most see it, but few like to discuss it and even fewer are willing to take it on. Retail organisations need to focus primarily on the problems which are most controllable within their businesses and internal theft and process failures both fall into this category. The results from this survey once again show the importance of understanding all the threats faced by retailers and highlights the danger of assuming that retail losses are predominantly due to external thieves."
While many of these crimes, taken individually, result in low level financial losses, the cumulative effect is significant and can have a "dramatic impact" on retailers' revenues, said the report.
Douglas Greenwell, Sales & Marketing Director at G4S, said: "With large numbers of employees, relatively high staff turnover and a reliance on casual and temporary workers it is difficult for retailers to effectively screen and vet all those working in their stores. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a number of unscrupulous individuals being employed that are happy to take advantage of their employer.
"By screening employees wherever possible and employing sophisticated security solutions, not merely focused on areas frequented by customers, retailers can mitigate against the threat from within and minimises losses from employee shrinkage. Retailers can employ integrated, sophisticated security solutions to prevent shrinkage throughout the supply chain. These include utilising technology such as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) to account accurately for all goods from the minute they leave manufacturers' premises to the moment they are merchandised on the shop floor, even to the extent that any damage to goods in transit can be recorded accurately."