Butchers urged to combat staff crime

Butchers are being warned to be vigilant when it comes to monitoring staff members after two cases of shops being targeted. 

Riley’s Butchers in Lancashire was recently affected by a member of staff stealing money from the till.

“Because the till was balancing at the end of the day, we just didn’t suspect anyone of stealing cash,” Geoff Riley from Riley’s Butchers told Meat Trades Journal. “We knew we had a problem in the business somewhere, we just hadn’t put our finger on what it was.”

Over a 15-18 month period, Riley’s Butchers were the victims of cash theft from one of their employees. After serving customers and running the order through the till, the staff member would then cancel the order and keep the money, unbeknownst to his employers.

Despite installing CCTV cameras prior to the incident, the problem persisted. Riley admitted that even when footage was watched back, it was a challenge to tell that the crime was happening.

“We watched it again after he had been caught and still couldn’t pick up on it. It was only really when we were watching one bit and there was something that happened that caught our eye. It was when we watched it backwards that we saw what he was doing. To say he was slick at it was a bit of an understatement.”

In an effort to overcome similar occurrences in the future, the business has changed its till system. “Our till system we had at the time wasn’t giving us the full reports we needed to be able to analyse the cancellations on the till,” said Riley. “Now we’ve made it so that every till tells us who’s done what, who’s sold what and who’s cancelled what. Also, the staff can’t provide anything off the till unless the supervisor is there to oversee it. There’s a password in force so it can’t be done without help.”

The loss of profit was not the only aspect of the crime that had a negative impact on business. Riley said that the problem saw people taking sides, and even a loss of business. “It spoiled the mood in the shop, you lose trust in everybody and you’re watching everybody. Everyone is on edge.”

Blackwells of Norton has also experienced similar misfortunes. As well as cash taken from the tills, the County Durham butcher shop has also seen stock taken from the business.

Following queries with stock takings, the business suspected a former employee had been stealing, which was later confirmed by another employee.

Since the theft, Blackwells has cracked down on its monitoring measures. Manager Anna Blackwell explained: “We have CCTV covering most of the areas and we do random bag checks, and we continuously check tills. We also pick random staff just to watch throughout the day and watch what they put through the tills, just to check that it’s correct.”

To prevent other businesses from experiencing similar issues, Blackwell stressed that butchers should be extremely watchful over their business. “We’re an industry that can be quite easily targeted. Things come in as one product and come out as another. Butchers should be very vigilant and keep checking up on things that you know that you can keep a check on.”

These sentiments were echoed by Riley, who encouraged butchers to examine all operations: “It’s just a case of scrutinising everything, even things you would never look at. For us, it was purchases cancelled off the till and it never even crossed my mind that somebody would do that using that method.”

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