Undercover Private Investigators Are Used For Loss Prevention
Many retail companies hire employees to conduct loss prevention duties within their store. Loss prevention includes everything from undercover shopping (watching customers and apprehending thieves) to swift tagging store merchandise. It serves mostly to protect merchandise from walking out the door unpaid for, but loss prevention also prevents fraudulent activities such as employee theft.
But what happens when the employees are the ones who need to be watched? In larger retail operations, it is impossible to watch every employee. Almost all retail outlets have at least one “bad apple” who either gives discounts to their friends, performs price switching (fraud) or steals from the company.
Sometimes the Employees are the Thieves
Some retailers are turning to Private Investigators to work undercover within their stores and watch suspected employees. Some Private detectives are so good that they can befriend and gain the trust of loose-lipped employees, and find out about internal scams, how fellow employees feel about management, and even uncover plans to form a union. Many retailers are shocked at what they learn because cashiers and clerks can be quite sneaky.
One Canadian retailer hired a Private Investigator as an undercover cashier in hopes of uncovering the perpetrator behind a string of thefts. The private eye got very close with several staff members and not only unveiled an elaborate internal theft scheme but also a plot to steal hundreds of thousands of customer reward points (and get free merchandise with them). The result? the termination of 5 employees and a reduction of shortages by almost 10% in the next fiscal year. Private investigators can save your company a lot of money in the long run.
Other retailers find out more than they are bargaining for when they hire a P.I. to watch over employees. Another major clothing store hired P.I.s to work as sales associates in several of their stores. The P.I.s spent time with fellow employees both inside and outside the workplace. In hiring covert investigators, the company was ultimately hoping to learn more about why they had such a high attrition rate amongst lower level employees. Within a couple of months, they heard from one of the undercover associates that not only was one of the supervisors making passes at many of the junior staff members, but one of the branches was secretly talking about forming a union!
Utilize Third Parties to Monitor Staff
You may not always be able to trust your staff, but you can always trust a third party investigation team who is paid to protect your best interests. A good private investigator can protect the integrity of your business. By having an “insider” report employee activities to you, your merchandise and company assets are better protected. You can reward and retain the best staff, and prosecute or simply terminate staff that have ulterior motives.