Theft is as much of a problem at vehicle maintenance and repair facilities as it is with any other organization — and maybe even more so. Loss occurs not only from thieves, but from stealing by customers and outsiders, including vendors and suppliers, who occasionally “walk away” with the company’s valuable assets, such as tools, parts inventory and equipment. Another grim reality that many companies find difficult to face is stealing by an organization’s own employees. 

The key to reducing loss is to establish effective theft prevention strategies, loss prevention officials say. Loss prevention is not necessarily about high-tech security; it is about making it difficult for individuals to be able to steal. A realization needs to be made that theft and fraud are mainly due to lax hiring, misplaced trust, inattentive management and poor internal controls, they say.

By maximizing existing resources, a number of ways are available for an organization to decrease its susceptibility to theft and fraud. One approach is to create a positive environment where honesty is practiced and employees are encouraged to deter fraud and theft.

Another foundation to loss prevention is having good employees, and that requires a comprehensive hiring approach to prevent the hiring of problem employees, poor performers and security risks, loss prevention officials say.

The hiring process should include a written application, reference checks, credit report, drug screen, criminal background check, motor vehicle record check, an interview by the hiring manager and multiple interviews by other managers. Loss prevention officials suggest having an outside service perform background checks on potential job candidates because these companies are experienced in this type of work.

Along with having good hiring practices, written security policies and programs are essential in the fight against loss and fraud, loss prevention officials say. The reason is that they serve as a permanent record documenting communication on dishonesty regarding a company’s vision, expectations and day-to-day operations.

Written policies and programs need to be concise and strong, and clearly define improper and illegal behavior. This includes conflicts of interest, kickbacks, embezzlement and other improper activities.

An ethics policy should be given to employees to read and sign at the time of hire, and it should be reviewed with employees at least annually, loss prevention officials advise. Along with letting employees know what is expected of them, a signed ethics statement gives a company stronger legal grounds for discharging dishonest employees.

The objective of written security policies and programs is not to deter theft, they note. Rather, these policies and programs hold individuals accountable for their actions, which is what helps deter theft.

Companies must make it clear that they will take severe action with any employee caught stealing including termination and prosecution, officials stress, and then stand behind that policy if they catch people stealing, they say.

According to loss prevention officials, establishing a sense of loyalty in the workplace can have an impact on deterring employee theft because employees feel ownership and pride in the business and, therefore, tend not to steal.

Worker attitude and good management helps deter employee theft as well, loss prevention officials say. Elements that contribute to a positive attitude in the workforce include good working conditions, appreciation, training and development, advancement opportunities, etc.

Keeping employees happy helps prevent them from wanting to “get back” at the company.

Management plays the biggest role in preventing losses in any company, and proper training is a crucial element to any loss prevention program, officials point out. A company can buy any security tool, device or program, but if managers continue to manage in the same way that encourages and allows employees to steal, there will never be a change. BI

David Kolman is a veteran truck communicator, keynote speaker and long-haul trucker. Commissioned as an honorary colonel on the Kentucky governor’s staff for his work promoting traffic safety, he actively participates in
trade associations and reports news and information about the trucking industry for broadcast and print media.