One of the most common types of crime associated with warehouse management is theft. While in some cases the act of theft is carried out by criminals with no relation to the business, the harsh reality is that company employees can count for a significant amount of shrinkage within a supply chain too.
The first step to combatting warehouse theft is recognising the warning signs that suggest a loss of inventory. For example:
- Your inventory levels are out of sync with your sales figures
- Stock is frequently seen placed near exit points and loading areas
- You find that important paperwork, such as invoices is either lost or seem to be duplicates of the original versions
- There is a trend between days where sales appear to be lower and specific employees are working
- Theft is suspected, according to staff conversations.
Whether your business has already detected some of the above red flags or not, it is critical that companies are prepared to handle the threat of warehouse theft. A strict loss prevention procedure should be implemented in order to help companies protect their assets, operations and brand image.
Protecting your warehouse from external theft
Limiting the risk of external theft is the best place to start when determining your approach in preventing theft in your warehouse. It is crucial to implement strong security measures to the boundaries of your facility. This will prevent non-employees from trying to break in when the warehouse is unattended, and will safeguard not only your valuables, but your staff when they’re on duty.
There are many ways you can deter intruders from entering your warehouse:
- Install high quality CCTV cameras. Having your warehouse fitted with video surveillance will not only prevent intruders (or employees) from making off with valuable goods, but it will also provide crucial camera evidence of the theft taking place. This is one of the most overlooked benefits of implementing CCTV cameras in your warehouse – it is near impossible to recover losses if there is no direct evidence to investigate. It is important to strategically place the CCTV in high-risk areas such as entrances/exits and loading bays and to eliminate any blind-spots.
- Have a dialler intruder alarm fitted. A dialler intruder alarm works by sending an instant alert to the person who is linked to the system via text or voice message. This is useful as the sooner you are notified about a potential threat to your business, the sooner appropriate action can be carried out. It also works as a deterrent to any would-be intruders.
- Consider a fully monitored security-system. This means having a professional team who works round-the-clock to monitor the security of your warehouse, and in the event of an intrusion, they will alert the police immediately. This provides a key benefit in getting someone to respond to the theft as soon as possible, particularly if management are not in the local area or can’t attend quickly themselves. There is of course a cost to this service, which needs to be assessed against the potential cost of loss of stock.
By incorporating the appropriate CCTV and alarm systems into your loss prevention plan, you will significantly reduce the chances of external theft in your warehouse.
Tackling warehouse theft by employees
It can be extremely difficult to identify and control internal theft, making it even harder to determine the entire extent of the problem. While efforts to prevent external theft also have a crossover impact on minimising employee theft, there are a number of additional ways you can reduce the risk of employees stealing assets.
- Put in place a cycle count procedure. Cycle counts are a great way to audit your inventory, and as a result, identify any discrepancies within your stock levels. The procedure can be carried out alongside the daily operations of the business, as it entails counting inventory in small groups and across numerous locations of your warehouse. This is an extremely productive method of stock control that can be done on an instant, daily or weekly basis.
- Implement a zero-tolerance policy towards stealing. This may seem like an obvious no-brainer, but it’s worth giving some attention to. Of course it should go without saying that theft will not be tolerated, however communicating the policy makes it clear to all staff that you are actively monitoring. This can work as a deterrent as potential thieves are less likely to act if they believe they could be caught. Make your employees aware that when it comes to theft and fraud, you adopt a zero-tolerance policy. You should also educate them on the measures in place to prevent loss, as well as the consequences of employees stealing from the company.
- Consider the risks when hiring more staff during busy periods. With busy periods and seasonal peaks comes a need for more staff to help with demand. Although it may seem like an urgent requirement to fill your vacancies, it is essential to perform a basic background check on your candidates before hiring them, as it could vastly mitigate the risk of warehouse theft. If you are concerned about the time implications of this process, it could be worth outsourcing the positions to a company who have already thoroughly vetted their employees.
- Increase the visibility of management within your warehouse. Whilst it might not be easy to have a consistent managerial presence on your warehouse floor, increasing their visibility to other employees will discourage staff from committing a theft in the workplace. Consider a warehouse management solution that allows warehouse managers to operate away from their desk and therefore can keep an eye on activity taking place on the warehouse floor.
It would be most effective to combine the types of security solutions you put in place, to ensure you have a well-rounded approach to protecting your warehouse from acts of theft.
At Oakway Storage, we can advise on an appropriate theft-prevention solution for your individual facility. This includes a robust design and planning service that can eliminate blind-spots and high risk areas from being a problem. To speak to an expert, call us on 01604 792255 today.