Using data analysis and hypothesis to draw conclusions

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In the previous chapter, the data analysis and hypotheses have been carried out according to the objectives of the study. This chapter gives a brief overview of the introduction, review of related literature, methodology and findings of the study. It also makes inferences from the findings which will lead to certain conclusions and generalization. Several recommendations have been made by the researcher based on the findings. Finally, recommendations for future research have also been made.

The main objective of this research was to study the factors contributing to the intention to steal in the supermarkets in Malaysia and also to study the moderating effects of internal control systems between intention to steal and workplace theft behavior in the supermarkets in Malaysia. In order to achieve this main objective, the following six specific research objectives were formulated:

1) To identify the possible reasons leading to the intention to steal by the employees in supermarkets in Malaysia.

2) To find out the relationship between the individual factors and the intention to steal in supermarkets in Malaysia.

3) To find out the relationship between the organizational factors and the intention to steal in supermarkets in Malaysia.

4) To find out the relationship between the intention to steal and the workplace theft behavior of the employees of supermarkets in Malaysia.

5) To determine the moderating effects of internal control systems between the intention to steal and workplace theft behavior of the employees in supermarkets in Malaysia.

6) To identify the effective internal control systems to prevent/reduce employee theft in supermarkets in Malaysia.

Studies of workplace theft behavior were based on several attributes listed by various researchers such as Ajzen, (1991), Bailey (2006), McClurg and Butler (2006) and Chen and Sandino (2007). For the purposes of this study, the instrument introduced by Bailey (2006) is used as the main reference in developing the questionnaire.

Discussion on the Research objective 1:

The first research objective is to identify the possible reasons leading to the intention to steal by the employees in supermarkets in Malaysia. By review of various related literature, the following factors have been identified by this research as having significant impact over the workplace theft behavior of the retail employees.

The employees steal from their organization because of their own financial needs. Cressey (1953) posited that employees steal to resolve financial difficulties that have no conventional solutions (e.g., drug habits, gambling).

Hollinger and Clark (1983) reported that employee theft was linked to opportunity and job dissatisfaction in the form of pay inequity. This opportunity theory suggests that people are inherently greedy and that every employee would steal if given the chance (Astor, 1972; Lipman, 1978). Opportunity certainly correlates positively with theft (Kantor, 1983; Lydon, 1984).

Employees may have individual characteristics and attitudes that motivate them to steal, but not all workers will react to the same situation in the same way. Some will act out their impulses while others may not (Shane & Venkataraman, 2000). Research has also explored behavioral predictors of employee theft indicating that individuals involved in employee theft are likely to be involved in other deviant behaviors such as alcohol, and/or drug abuse, and/or gambling (Hollinger & Clark, 1983).

Individuals steal from their employers to restore balance to a situation in which they feel they have put in effort above and beyond the compensation they would otherwise receive (inequity). Specifically, this kind of theft is linked to underpayment for work performed (Greenberg, 1990, 1993).

One of the recurring themes is for organizations and their managers to be fair and supportive to employees. Organizations that were perceived as justice, fair and supportive had fewer employee absence and tardy incidents, less employee theft, and less workplace violence. It is clearly in the best interest of an organization to treat employees well. The broad idea behind Organizational Justice is that employees are active observers in organizations (Colquitt et al., 2002).

Kamp and Brooks (1991) suggest the existence of an "organizational theft climate" which can be either honest or dishonest in nature. An honest organizational theft climate would send messages to employees that theft was unacceptable. Supporting this notion, Kamp and Brooks (1991) found that employees' perceptions about management's attitudes to theft, and the attitudes of their immediate supervisor, their coworkers, and their own personal attitudes toward theft were related to employees' self-reported on-the-job theft.

Employee theft will be more likely in an organization that does not make its anti-theft policies explicit (Gibbs, 1975). Research indicates that it is the perceived certainty of punishment that is most effective in deterring theft (Tittle & Logan, 1973). Kantor (1983) suggests that a large number of employees will engage in employee theft if they see others doing so without being apprehended or punished. The behavior of one employee is provoked by the behavior of co-workers. Thus the study determined that Individual and Organizational factors play an important role in predicting the workplace theft behavior of employees.

Discussion on Research objectives 2 to 5:

Then the following hypotheses were made by the researcher based on the past literature.

H1: Individual factors have an impact on Intention to steal.

H2: Organizational factors have an impact on Intention to steal.

H3: Intention to steal increases workplace theft behavior.

H4: Intention to steal mediates the Individual factors to workplace theft behavior relationship.

H5: Intention to steal mediates the Organizational factors to workplace theft behavior relationship.

H6: Internal control systems moderate the Intention to steal to workplace theft behavior relationship.

In order to test the above hypotheses, structural equation modeling (SEM) was used by the researcher with a clear sample size of 450 respondents. By using the SEM, the adequacy of the overall measurement model is then tested. The overall measurement model, as shown in Figure 5.1 was found to be acceptable. The correlation values are provided in Table 5.1.

Figure 5.1 Overall measurement model

Table 5.1 Correlation between factors in Individual multidimensional construct.

Factor 1

Factor 2


























All the pairwise correlation values, as presented in Table 5.1 are less than 0.85. Thus, there is no serious problem of multicollinearity.

Then the final structural model is worked out. The final structural model is shown in Figure 5.2 and the regression weights are provided in Table 5.2.

Figure 5.2 The final structural model

Table 5.2 The regression weights

























































* covariance ** Corelation

In table 5.2, all te regression weights are positive and significant. The last row in Table 5.2 is the correction value between individual and Organization Constructs. The correlation value of 0.364 indicates a significant level of association between the two constructs.

Hypotheses H1 to H3 can be answered based on the results in Table 5.2.

H1: Individual factors have an impact on Intention to steal.

The standardized regression weight for Individual factors - Intention to steal relationship is 0.335 (P<0.001). Thus, H1 is supported by the data.

H2: Organizational factors have an impact on Intention to steal.

The standardized regression weight for Organizational factors - Intention to steal relationship is 0.294 (P<0.001). Thus, H2 is supported by the data

H3: Intention to steal increases workplace theft behavior.

The standardized regression weight for Intention to steal - workplace theft behavior relationship is 0.107 (P<0.001). Thus, H3 is supported by the data

Then the mediating effects of Intention to Steal in the Individual to Work place theft behavior and Organization to Work place theft behavior relationships are tested.

Table 5.3 The Indirect effects of Intention to Steal




[0.007, 0.061]

[0.009, 0.070

The indirect effects of Intention to Steal are provided in Table 5.3. These values were generated using 1000 bootstrap samples in AMOS. Both the intervals do not contain the value of zero. Thus, Intention to steal mediates both, the Individual to Work place theft behaviour and Organization to Work place theft behaviour relationships.

Hypotheses H4 and H5 can be answered based on the results in Table 5.3

H4: Intention to steal mediates the Individual factors to workplace theft behavior relationship.

The 95% confidence interval for the mediating effect is [0.007, 0.061]. There is a moderate mediating effect. Thus, H4 is supported by the data.

H5: Intention to steal mediates the Organizational factors to workplace theft behavior relationship.

The 95% confidence interval for the mediating effect is [0.009, 0.070]. There is a moderate mediating effect. Thus, H5 is supported by the data.

Next, the moderating effect of internal control systems on the Intention to steal to Work place theft behavior was tested. . In the questionnaire there were nine items measuring the internal control systems as perceived by the respondents. All items were measured on a Likert scale of 1 to 5, where 1 indicated strong disagreement and 5 indicated strong agreement to the statements. Using cluster analysis procedure in SPSS, two clusters were obtained: Group 1 perceived tight surveillance system while Group 2 perceived that the surveillance system was not adequate. There were 150 members in the first group and 300 members in the second. To test the mediating effect, two group analyses were performed: (1) Unconstrained for Intention to steal to Work place theft behavior and (2) Constrained for Intention to steal to Work place theft behavior. The chi-square values and the respective degrees of freedom were obtained for both the models. These values, the difference and the associated p-value are provided in Table 5.4.

Table 5.4 Testing the moderating effect




Change in Chi-square

Change in df











Since the p-value in Table 5.4 is less than 0.05, surveillance is a moderator. To further investigate the effect, estimates were obtained from 1000 bootstrap samples. The confidence intervals based on these samples are provided in Table 5.5.

Table 5.5 Comparison of effects in Group 1 and Group 2





95% Confidence Interval




















Based on the results provided in table 5.5, there is a positive relationship between Intention to steal and Work place theft behavior in Group 2. However, in Group 1, the relationship is negative.

Hypothesis H6 can be answered based on the results in Table 5.5.

H6: Internal control systems moderates the Intention to steal to workplace theft behavior relationship.

The regression weights for Intention to steal and Work place theft behavior relationship are significant in both groups but are in opposite direction. Thus, H6 is supported by the data.

Discussion on Research objective 6:

The key and important question for the management of the super markets is that what are the effective internal control systems to prevent/reduce retail employee theft? To find out the best internal control systems, the respondents of the survey of this research were requested to rank the best three of the following internal control systems according to their experience and perception.

Effective supervision.

Severe surveillance.

Accurate record keeping.

Rigorous exit inspection.

Continuous secret shoppers.

Clear cut definition of duties.

Strong detective controls.

Frequent surprise audits.

Strong anonymous reporting system

Tough accounting controls.

The most widely recommended advice of the respondents who responded to this question stated that they believed the following are the most effective internal control systems to help prevent/reduce retail employee theft.

Rank No.

Internal control system

Number of respondents


Severe surveillance



Frequent surprise audits



Rigorous exit inspection



Effective supervision



Continuous secret shoppers



Strong anonymous reporting system



Strong detective controls



Tough accounting controls



Clear cut definition of duties



Accurate record keeping


Total response (each respondent rank three best internal control systems)

Total respondents



Thus many of the respondents considered severe surveillance (78.05%) is the best internal control system followed by frequent surprise audits (77.31%) and rigorous exit inspection (75.12%).

As stated earlier, the participants in this survey consisted of retail employees including cashiers, retail supervisors, retail managers, internal auditors and security personnel who have many years of work experience in the retail floor of the super markets in Malaysia. The findings from this section of the study support research results that the opportunity for theft is often provided by the employer's failure to implement effective internal control systems (Hemphill and Hemphill, 1975, Hollinger and Clark, 1983, Tonglet and Bamfield, 1997, Thomas and Gibson, 2003).

Theoretical implications

The findings of this research have six theoretical implications for modeling the super market employee's theft behavior as shown in Figure 5.1.1.

Figure 5.1.1 Six Implications for Theory








Flexible Framework

Manageable Variables

Sufficient Demographics

5.2 Comprehensive and holistic approach to study the retail employee's work place theft behavior

This study developed a comprehensive and holistic model incorporating the individual and organizational variables influencing the intention to steal and work place theft behavior. It investigated the significant influencing factors for the retail theft behavior which is the major concern for all the retailers in view of the increasing shrinkage. The research model integrated independent variables, mediating variable, moderating variable and independent variable in one framework. This study confirms the Theory of Planned behavior (TPB) and Equity Theory in studying the retail work place theft behavior

5.3 Practical tools to measure the retail work place theft behavior

This study demonstrates the need for research to develop useful tools for the large scale chain organizations like supermarkets to measure the various factors influencing the retail work place theft behavior. The practical tools of this research will help the large scale chain organizations to identify (1) various individual factors that significantly influence the work place theft behavior, (2) various organizational factors that significantly influence the work place theft behavior, (3) the mediating factor that impacts the individual and organizational factors, (4) the effective internal control systems to prevent/reduce the work place theft behavior, and (5) the work place theft behavior of the retail employees of the super markets.

Clear definitions of constructs

It is very much essential that the Researchers must be clear in construct definitions when they build models. This study clarified the role of individual factors like need, opportunity and personal characteristics, organizational factors like compensation, justice, ethical work climate and punishment for the co-worker theft. The study also made clear the role of mediating factor intention to steal and the moderating factor the internal control systems. Careful literature review (Chapter 2) and pre test and pilot tests enabled clear definitions of each construct to eliminate duplication (chapter 3). The results justify the clarity of definitions.

Manageable set of identified significant variables

It is essential that the research results should yield a manageable set of significant variables. This study has reduced an initial 60 items to 55 items to measure and study all the independent, dependent, mediating and moderating variables. In this way, the management of the super markets can focus their resources on the few most significant variables.

Sufficient retail employees demographics to investigate associations

This research provided nine retail employees demographics to identify the retail employees' work place theft behavior. Had there been a lesser number of demographic variables, the identification of an association between the variables might have been affected. The management of the super markets can now use human resource strategies and internal control strategies to prevent/reduce the retail theft.

Flexible framework to embrace other independent variables

A research study should be flexible enough to embrace other independent variables. For example other variables like Age, Gender, Education, Income levels, Employee status as well as years of retail experience, tenure with the company, Size of the organization and prior experience with retail theft etc., can be included in the research model to get even more meaningful results.

From a theoretical perspective, this research adds to a stream of empirical studies that examine the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) and Equity Theory in various settings as well as the roles of different control mechanisms to reduce the workplace theft problems. The purpose of this study was to relate the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) and Equity Theory to a research model of retail employee theft behavior and to develop a series of testable propositions. These propositions have been then subjected to an empirical study to determine the extent to which TPB and Equity Theory do an effective or ineffective job in explaining retail employees' intentions to engage in retail theft. A review of the current research reveals no published study that has applied TPB and Equity Theory simultaneously to understand the retail theft behavior of the employees of large scale chain organizations like super markets.

5.8 Recommendations for future research

There are five recommendations for future research.

1) Broader organization research base

As further research is needed to generalize the research framework to broader settings, future studies may examine small and medium size retail chain organizations also along with supermarkets where the retail shrinkage due to employee theft is also considered to be a growing problem.

2) Bigger sample size

Sample size of respondents must be big enough for testing. For this study, the sample was homogenous and therefore this sample size of 410 is considered to be adequate to test the hypotheses. If the respondents are heterogeneous, a larger sample size is required. In this research, testing the significant relationship between various factors mattered most and hence the objective was fulfilled. With the larger sample size, the research can be more reliable and the result will be more accurate. In short the future researchers need to decide sample size according to the research objectives.

3) Wider influencing factors

This study focused on individual and organizational factors only. Further research could work on other variables such as societal or environmental variables. Researchers could then build a construct with more comprehensive measures. For instance, researchers could investigate the relationship between individual, organizational and societal variables towards the workplace theft behavior more in-depth. It also may be useful for future research to look for some additional variables in other fields of study similar to workplace theft.

It is likely that there are a number of individual and organization variables like Age, Gender, Education, Income levels, Employee status as well as years of retail experience, tenure with the company, Size of the organization and prior experience with retail theft etc., which will have direct and indirect effects on the Intention to steal. This research model contains only three Individual factors and four organization factors leading to Intention to steal. Thus there is prospect for additional theorizing and research regarding direct and indirect effects of other variables on retail theft behavior. It is likely that some of these will have direct and indirect effects on Intention to engage in retail theft.

4) Longer duration study

The present research used the cross sectional design where the data were collected at one point of time. Future research should consider longitudinal design.

Managerial implications

While the direct effects of employee theft are feasible to measure, such as financial losses and employee turnover, there are other resulting effects of theft that are not so easily measured. Employee theft affects the interests of three different populations: employers, other employees and the society at large as follow:

Consequences relating to employers

Payne (2004) points out that there are three main consequences to victimization: "economic losses, physical experiences and emotional tolls." Like victims of other crimes, these employers have more difficulty in trusting their employees, face high rate of employee turnover and experience feeling more tired at the end of the day as compared with employers who had not been victimized. Economically speaking, the cost of employee theft to a business weighs in above the value of what is taken. Including recruitment, interviewing and screening, the cost of hiring a replacement employee rings in at about $9,200, while dismissing an employee (for a reason such as theft) can range anywhere from $30,000 to $60,000 (Losey, 1994).

Consequences relating to employees

These are the consequences suffered by employees in the workplace in response to theft by their coworkers. Although high labor turnover is an employer related consequence, it should be also mentioned here as employees also experience negative effects when their coworkers are constantly changing. In addition, "a feeling of uncertainty as regards trust and loyalty" (Muir, 1996) will be experienced by even honest employees which may lead to an uncomfortable and less productive work environment.

Consequences relating to society at large

These consequences are far reaching and are much more difficult to calculate, but are significant however. "The impact of crime on small business affects the government through lost revenue, customers by way of higher prices, taxpayers through having to fund a more expensive criminal justice system, employees through increased fear and possible job losses, and all businesses through higher insurance premiums and the potential effects that business closures due to crime could have on other local businesses" (Taylor and Matthew, 2002).

Consistent with organizational fairness theory, some specific recommendations to control theft would include improving relationships between employees and employers, reducing marginality (e.g., promote long-term employment), introducing employee ownership (shares in the company), and changing the way grievances are handled (Tucker, 1989). Other suggestions include treating employees with dignity, respect and trust (Greenberg, 1990, 1993), encouraging managers and supervisors to build non-adversarial relationships with employees, striving to enrich employees' jobs, providing opportunities for dissatisfied employees to vent their emotions, and providing a model of organizational integrity (Taylor, 1986). In keeping with payment equity theory, if adequate and fair compensation cannot be provided, employee theft can still be reduced by adequately explaining the basis for the inequity in an informative and interpersonally sensitive manner (Greenberg, 1990, 1993). A major benefit of these workplace interventions is that they are very inexpensive to implement.

Retail employee theft has a significant impact on retail operations in almost all countries. For many retailers, it is the major source of shrinkage. Hence efforts should be taken by the Managements to try to understand this phenomenon Retail managers need to have an understanding of various factors that are likely to influence the workplace theft behavior before strategies can be developed and implemented to curtail this behavior. The application of TPB and other Motivational theories to retail theft behavior has the potential to provide retail management with additional insights on the nature of retail theft and those who practice it.

The model in this research proved that variables like need, opportunity and personal characteristics are likely to have an impact on the intention to steal and in turn workplace theft behavior. There are many human resource strategies that emerge from the above findings. These strategies should first focus on the employees' selection process. This approach proposes devising a proposal of individuals who are prone to steal (Murphy, 1993) Theft behavior is thus controlled through testing candidates in the interview process and rejecting those candidates who fit the theft proneness profile. Techniques like integrity tests and background checks should be followed. Companies that develop such integrity tests claim that their instruments are valid and able to discriminate between honest and dishonest candidates (Lissy, 1995).

It is also proved by this research that organizational factors like compensation, justice, ethical work climate and punishment for the coworker theft also have an impact on the workplace theft behavior. The influence of the organization's policies on employee theft centers primarily on two factors: compensation and control mechanism. Although a variety of motivation theories could be applied to explain employee theft (Taylor & Prien, 1998), the influence of the compensation policy of the organization is a clear application of equity theory (Adams, 1965) or relative deprivation theory (Crosby, 1984; Martin, 1981). Inequitable pay and distributive injustice have long been cited as antecedents to employee dissatisfaction and lack of motivation (Adams, 1965; Greenberg & Scott, 1996). Here it is pertinent to note that equity is judged on the basis of an employee's comparison of perceived outcomes- to-inputs ratios between themselves and a comparable person or model. Greenberg (1990b, 1993) established that stealing is in fact a serious reaction of unfair pay and compensation systems. In a laboratory study, the participants who perceived their agreed-upon pay to be equitable, when given the opportunity to pay themselves, took exactly the agreed-upon amount, but "inequitably paid" participants took more than their eligible share (Greenberg, 1993). In another study he found that a temporary 15% pay cut led to employee theft rates as much as 250% higher than those under normal pay conditions (Greenberg, 1990b).

Whilst equity theory explains people's responses to the fairness of their own outcomes compared to others in similar conditions, relative deprivation theory (Crosby, 1984; Martin, 1981) provides an explanation as to why one may feel injustice on the basis of group membership. "Fraternal deprivation" refers to the belief that one's entire class is being deprived of a valued outcome (Martin, 1981). For example, if a blue collar worker is concerned about his pay relative to that of another blue collar worker, this is considered to be basically an equity issue. If the worker is unhappy because of comparisons to dissimilar white collar workers of the organization, then it is an issue of fraternal deprivation. In the latter case, the blue collar worker likely sees a class distinction. Martin (1981) noted that fraternal deprivation can result in more dramatic adverse effects than simple equity disputes, like political attempts to alter the system by violence. Theft would be one of the many behavioral responses to feelings of frustration brought on by fraternal deprivation.

While the inequity of compensation influences employee theft through feelings of deprivation, poor internal control systems often provide employees with the opportunity to steal. Some theorists believe that most people will steal if given a chance (Hollinger & Clark, 1983). There is some research support for this position, since findings indicate that the perceived chance of getting caught is the single best predictor of employee theft (Hollinger, 1989). This explanation is accepted by criminologists and security experts who maintain that failure to follow deterrent procedures causes unfair temptations that could make normally honest employees into thieves (Greenberg, 1997).

The prevention/reduction of retail workplace theft requires a multifaceted approach, and it should be made clear that while certain internal controls must be established, a realistic balance must be maintained to prevent creating a stifling and oppressive environment in which every employee feels suspect. An overly aggressive and heavy-handed approach will only alienate the employees and make it very difficult to get their cooperation in all the other loss prevention issues that must also be addressed. The following internal control measures play an important role in preventing/reducing the workplace theft.

Personnel controls

These controls relate primarily to the non-sale or non-duty movements and activities of retail floor employees.

1) Accounting for retail employee time: Time is money. Employees should be required to use time cards or some other written methods of sigh-in and sign-out accountability. Work habits of the employees should be monitored to prevent misuse of time.

2) Fixed entry and exit points: All retail employees should be required to enter and exit through a specific entryway or gate. This location should be monitored, especially during shift changes and at closing either by a security guard or by a supervisor.

3) Employee parking: If possible, retail employees should not be allowed to park their private vehicles near side or rear doors or the store's receiving dock.

4) Personal belongings: Employees should be discouraged from bringing packages into the store. These should be checked in a secure area at the start of a shift and sealed or locked in a controlled setting until the employee's shift is over and he or she comes to collect them before exiting the store.

5) Spot check policies: If there is no separate or secure area for checking, store should follow a written policy of spot-checking purses and backpacks for stolen merchandise, to which the employee must agree and sign a statement upon being hired.

6) Employee purchases: When uncontrolled, purchase is one of the major avenues used by the retail employees to steal. All employee purchases should be transacted through store management. Certain time periods should be designated when workers can do their own shopping.

Merchandise controls

Without goods, there can be no retail business. Merchandise must be protected from damage, misuse and theft.

1) Inventories: Perpetual inventory system is a must to control the inventory. It should be done on a cross-department basis. The regular use of independent internal audit employees is very much recommended.

2) Stockrooms: Access to stock rooms should be restricted and high value merchandise should be protected by locks and alarm systems controlled by supervisors. Merchandise should be stacked neatly, to prevent damage and make it easier to spot missing items.

3) Damaged merchandise: Reduced price sale of distressed or defective merchandise to employees should be prohibited or severely limited. This will deter them from deliberately damaging saleable items.

4) Use of stocks for upkeep: Employees should not be allowed to indiscriminately take merchandise from the sales floor or stockrooms to use for store upkeep, repair or maintenance. The use of these materials must be first approved by a manager and then recorded and accounted for as a separate class of store expenditure.

5) Out-of-area merchandise: Store managers and supervisors should look closely at any merchandise found away from its typical area or department. There is always a simple explanation, but when merchandise is stashed in an unusual spot or found behind the cash wrap counter, it could also mean the employee is getting ready to steal it or pass it off to a friend.

6) Concealed merchandise: Managers and supervisors should routinely check trash bins and garbage containers for perfectly good items. Dishonest employees, especially janitors, frequently remove merchandise from a store for later recovery from outside receptacles and dumpsters. Employees can frequently be caught red-handed going through the trash to recover merchandise they have stolen.

Cash wrap controls

Effective controls at the cash wrap (also called a cash register or POS terminal) begin with daily opening, shift change, and closing register readings. These readings, often referred to as Z readings, provide a running total of all transactions that have occurred on a particular cash register. Separate readings must be taken for each drawer in a multi drawer register. There should be no gaps in these readings. The closing reading for one day, or shift should be the opening reading for the next. These readings should only be taken by a manager or supervisor. Allowing retail sales personnel to take readings on their own registers, or to have access to the special register keys necessary to take such readings, make it easier for them to steal.

Fund controls

Employees should be provided with a "bank", a specific account of cash to start their shift in their particular register drawer. The first thing they should be required to do when they receive their bank for the day is, in the presence of the person who gives it to them, count it to immediately verify the amounts provided.

Sales controls

Company policies should clearly state that all sales are to be rung up immediately and completely, and the register drawer is to be closed after every transaction. Purchases should not be combined; each item must be recorded separately. Sales personnel should not be allowed to make any type of adjustment or correct an error by improperly recording the price of the next item. The customer's receipt must accurately reflect the exact price of each item purchased. Failure to adhere to these policies allows most register thefts to occur.

Sales related controls

1) Alertness: The managers and supervisors should look for and able to recognize indications of possible register manipulation. Most employees who steal keep a running tally of their "take" so they will know how much to remove when the opportunity presents itself.

2) Spot checks: Periodic spot check by the managers and supervisors will help to keep an alert on the employees. They should vary the numbers and the times of spot checks. Special emphasis should be put on the new employees.

3) Over/short forms: Another great asset in detecting dishonest cash wrap operators is the use of an over/short form. This is a simple, calendar-type form on which the performance of all employees over a given period of time, usually a month, is recorded in separate blocks. Overages are recorded in blue and shortages in red, to easily detect patterns and trends. These patterns, especially in erratic, often indicate register manipulation.

Errors and voids control

Register transactions are not always handled perfectly. Employees make mistakes; customers change their minds or, occasionally, discover they do not have enough money to make the intended purchase. The transaction recorded on the register must then be corrected. Errors, voids and over-rings must be controlled with a specific procedure. They are the easiest and most common ways for employees to steal from their registers.


The most important point to be highlighted is that none of the behavior based or workplace-based theories/preventive strategies alone will effectively explain/reduce all instances of retail employee theft. The nature of retail employee theft is complex and it results from an interaction of personal and organizational factors. Therefore, any comprehensive theory or preventive strategy should consider all of the different factors that contribute to employee theft.