Employee Theft In Restaurants – Telltale Signs Your Restaurant Is Plagued By Internal Theft And Pilferage

internal theft in restaurants

Internal pilferage and employee theft in restaurants is so much widespread that it has almost become a common practice. While most restaurateurs are aware that some misappropriations is happening, they are often unable to identify the exact incident and the culprit behind the theft. 

No matter how well your security measures are, there are still possibilities of internal theft in restaurants. 

A study concluded that seventy-five percent of employees have at least stolen once from their workplace and are more likely to do it again.

In order to better manage internal thefts in restaurants, you need to understand how your employees are handling the cash and the inventory.

This article will help you reckon why internal theft in restaurants are so prevalent in the restaurant industry and how one can prevent it.

What’s Leading To Internal Theft In Restaurants And How To Prevent It

Understanding why your employees steal can help you prevent internal theft in restaurants. Recognizing the signs are important to prevent it from happening again. Here are some reasons why some employees steal from your restaurant.

  • No one is watching – The major reason why employees resort to stealing is the stark opportunity that presents in the restaurant business – ‘no one is watching’. The people who steal are often opportunist and look for the right moment to steal from the restaurant. 
  • Low Remuneration – When employees are not acknowledged for the hard work they do or are not paid well, they may be tempted to steal when the opportunity arises.
  • Lack of concern or involvement of the management – When the restaurant owner or the top management is not involved in the business and doesn’t audit the system and the processes, the employees find it an easy opportunity to steal from the restaurant. 

Warning Signs Your Employees Might Be Stealing From Your Restaurant

There are various signs that indicate the employees might be stealing from your restaurant. You shouldn’t ignore them and keep an active look-out for the signs mentioned below.

1. High Variance Between Ideal Stock And Physical Stock

At times your Ideal and Physical Stock might vary but if you start noticing this trend often then your employees might be stealing from the inventory. 

The ideal stock is the amount of stock you should have remaining with you after serving your guests. The ideal stock is based on the calculations you make. The physical stock is the actual stock you are left with after serving your customers. Sometimes the amount might not coincide with your calculations.

A Variance between 5-7% is acceptable and can be accounted to regular wastage. However, if the Variance is consistently high, then there are high chances that your restaurant staff might be stealing from your inventory or not recording the served items in the POS. 

If you start noticing a huge disparity between the Ideal Stock and the Physical Stock, you should consider tightening the security and look for any evidence of internal theft in your restaurant.

2. High Number Of Edited Bills Or Void Bills 

There are times when your cashier needs to edit the order in the POS after the bill has been generated. But if you start noticing a pattern and find a high number of edited or void bills, it’s about time to investigate possible internal thefts.

A high number of edited and void bills is a clear indication that someone is stealing from your restaurant. Therefore keep a close check on the number of bills produced each day. This will prevent you from getting robbed and keep any internal thefts at bay.

3. Making A Point To Work Independently

If you find an employee going out of his way and scheduling odd shifts when few people are around he/she might be stealing from your restaurant.

A person who is habitual of stealing looks for safe opportunities. Changing their shift timings or working overtime would allow them to steal easily. Therefore, keep a close check on people who often come early or leave late when there’s no one around.

4. Frequently Damaged Or Missing Products

If you feel that products are being damaged or are going missing often then something might not be right.

Your employees might be purposely damaging the products or taking it home. You need to keep a check on all the products from the raw material for cooking to the equipment. Everything needs to be accounted for if damaged or missing.

5. A Low Record Of Sales

If you find that the sales are not being recorded properly then someone might be stealing from you.

Not maintaining the proper sales record is a clear sign of internal thefts in restaurants. If someone is manipulating the sales record and editing it they might be stealing from you.

How To Prevent Internal Thefts And Pilferage In Restaurants

Internal theft in restaurants can be of various forms, including giving away freebies to customers in the hope of getting a good tip, stealing food or alcohol for themselves, etc.

Several employees are opportunists and look for the right opportunity to steal. But you can prevent that by being alert and by using the tips mentioned below.

1. Install A Smart POS System

If you install a POS system half of your work is already done. A smart POS system will help you in keeping track of the total sales and the bills you have generated for an entire day.

You can keep your system password protected and only give a few people access to it. This will prevent employees from manipulating the bills and making changes. Even if some discrepancies occur you know whom you should be catching hold of!

2. Keep All The Liquor Locked

It is easiest to steal liquor if left unattended. You need to ensure that liquor bottles are never left unattended and should be locked away safely.

Only give a few people like the restaurant manager and the bartender the key to the lock. You can also check through the POS system to ensure if a particular kind of alcohol is always running low.

3. Install Security Cameras

If you do not have a security camera installed at your restaurant you might want to reconsider that.

Having a security camera installed keeps your staff under the supervision and prevents them from stealing. It is a clear way of letting your staff know they are being monitored. Even if you aren’t there your employees won’t attempt to steal due to the fear of being watched.

Restaurants end up losing a lot of money because of internal theft and pilferage which may invariably lead them to shutting down. It is highly recommended that you set the best practices to ensure operational hygiene and keep your restaurant staff happy and motivated to prevent employee theft in restaurants.

Do you think your restaurant staff is stealing from you? We can help you out!

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Nikunj is the Communications Lead at Restroworks, a global leader in cloud-based technology platforms. In his role, he oversees global marketing and branding initiatives for Restroworks across APAC, the Middle East, and the US.


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