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The adventure usually begins with a notice from the bank that a deposit was either short or is missing. It triggers questions of who was supposed to have taken it to the bank and when. When the accountability for the deposit is determined, the employee in question undoubtedly swears that they followed deposit protocols to the letter and denounces the bank records. Requests are made to the bank to inspect their night depository including the chute and all deposit records. If applicable, recorded video may be viewed to determine when the particular deposit in question was prepared and removed from the store.

It's a long, arduous process. Trust levels are threatened, feelings can be hurt and false accusations could lead to civil action.

Unfortunately the scenario plays out frequently in the world of limited-service restaurants. Such was the case in a McDonald's in Ocean Pines, Md. A deposit was short $520 from a night deposit. The ensuing police investigation lasted almost seven weeks as investigators poured over more than 24 hours of video calling it "tedious and time consuming."

The employee accountable for taking the deposit to the bank, who initially denied any part of the missing cash, eventually confessed and was criminally charged with the theft. The police discovered that the employee had been arrested for three other counts of theft in 2006 and a fourth in 2007.

In this particular case, the business was rather fortunate that the police investigators pursued the investigation for such an extended period of time. Many don't or won't due to time and resource constraints. A case such as this could be further complicated if the employee was involved in "rolling" deposits; the continuing theft scheme of covering the theft from one or more deposits with proceeds from future deposits. It is an all too common theft scheme by those who have continuous access to deposits.

The employee in question had a documented history of stealing. Did the manager or owner of the business not know this? Perhaps they knew, but decided to hire her despite the criminal history. What do you know about employees assigned to handle your deposits? How do you ascertain whether that employee is trustworthy enough first to work for you and second, handle and take deposits to the bank?

We don't know if a criminal background check was conducted on this employee who had those responsibilities. What we do know is that in this case, the leopard did not change its spots. Honest employees make mistakes and errors in judgment. Some may be tempted to steal by the opportunity, financial need, compounded by little fear of getting caught. Many owners and managers have been shocked by an employee caught stealing who had been one of their most trusted employees. Could you have any leopards on your payroll?

Consult a loss prevention professional on how you can implement proactive measures to keep your employees and customers safer and more secure, and your increase your profits at the same time.

For more information on the theft scheme of "rolling deposits," read "Rolling Deposits – Uncovering the granddaddy of cash fraud" by clicking here.

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D. B. "Libby" Libhart
D.B. “Libby” Libhart has more than 30 years of experience in the loss prevention industry. He has provided security and safety leadership in retail settings such as department stores, drug stores and quick-service restaurants. Before launching his own company, LossBusters, Libby served as the Senior Director of U.S. Security and Safety for McDonald’s Corp. He entered the QSR industry with Taco Bell and subsequently YUM Brands.
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