Edward Macfarlane, Managing Director at Cordant Security discusses shrinkage in his first article for Infologue.com. Edward writes: “One of the key challenges for the security industry is to protect clients from “inside jobs” also known as “shrinkage”. While this is mostly petty theft, employee theft is a constant issue in our line of work and it costs the retail industry in particular, millions of pounds every year.
“The reason why internal theft is such a challenge is because staff have knowledge of their workplace and gain familiarity with how security systems work including patrol schedules and where CCTVs are located. They also know where the valuables are placed. This makes it easy for a potential thief to work out the opportune time and place to make their move.
“Furthermore such thieves can be exceptionally cunning in the choice of what they steal and the methods used to commit the crime. We have caught client’s employees replace their foil wrapped sandwiches with foil wrapped concealed mobile phones so that they can sneak them away in their lunch boxes. Others have smuggled new mobile phones by taping them to their groins, so that when the metal detector goes off they can claim it is a zip or belt. We’ve even come across retail client employees stealing underwear by wearing it under their own.
“So how do we combat this problem? There is only so much information that recruitment vetting procedures can reveal so it’s really a case of tackling the problem head-on in the workplace.
“Well-trained security officers are essential to combatting these crimes. As they too become familiar with the workplace and its staff behaviour and pick-up on anything unusual. They also know how to handle difficult requirements such as searches.
“Searches will always be needed to identify the mobile telephone taped to the groin and other hiding techniques adopted by thieves but they are a sensitive issue, and cultural differences can also make searching problematic but well trained security guards are invaluable in carrying out searches when necessary. These guards use their knowledge to spot tell-tale signs of theft, such as tampering of packaging or someone spending too much time using the facilities on a regular basis. Professional security officers can target suspects by introducing pat-down or more thorough searches at the end of breaks, not just at the end of shifts.
“In addition, building designs have improved to offer increased security measures where needed such as including technology and multi-level access control as well as turnstiles, cages and locked-off areas for high value items.
“While manned guarding and preventative building design is essential, new technology can also help security offices deliver an even better service.
“We are seeing the focus shift a gear so that security patrols have integrated technology that gives them the additional intelligence they need to prevent theft. For example, heat mapping software can process information from ID passes to provide sophisticated surveillance and help identify for example, individuals going into prohibited areas or behaving suspiciously, even within the largest sites. Armed with such real-time monitoring, security guards can now target individuals proactively, rather than merely reacting to incidents.
“At Cordant Security we always work in partnership with our clients to try to keep one step ahead of the criminals, but we temper this by always treating employees with respect.
“Our decades of experience in the security sector give us the ability to offer intelligent solutions, which also means embracing technology. We are able to use our expertise on the ground to help specify a truly effective system to protect a client’s site.
“In conclusion we know that employee theft is a major issue, particularly for the retail sector but we believe the answer is here by integrating technology with the expertise of well trained security guards. We firmly believe that the vast majority of employee theft can be eradicated. Our role is to help our clients to get the right systems and security personnel to achieve this end.”