Theft can seriously reduce your profit. Every pound stolen from you means you must sell at least £10 worth of extra goods to compensate.

It is all too easy for someone working in a butcher's or deli to steal enough food for their family. The rest of the family shop, such as cleaning materials, can also come from work. I once sacked someone for stealing toilet rolls - the only thing I could prove they were taking.

Your company rules must give you protection. You need rules on staff sales, rules on personal cash in the shop, rules on serving family and finally rules on the sale of any damaged and stale goods. Supervision of the back door and storage areas is essential with staff being aware of that supervision. Bought-in high value goods must remain sealed until needed. If careful monitoring of cash, perhaps by random till checks using a spare drawer system, still reveals a problem then covert cameras may be required.

Use CCTV firms with experience who will provide you with a full service, including staff interviews when stealing is suspected.

One dismissal for theft will send a strong message to all the other staff. Do not be soft and forgiving. If they have stolen once they will steal again.

For information on the Data Protection Act, go to: Smith

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