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We continue to get email about the story on shrink and employee responsibility. One MNB user wrote:

I wish to remain anonymous but I must respond to the e-mail where the reader is galled by the results of Shrink Survey Executive Summary. First, let me say that my husband is a 20+ year employee of one of the top 5 grocer retailers in the U.S. His particular job is Loss Prevention Specialist and the stories he tells me about employee theft and shrink are appalling. Let me respond to the reader's e-mail below...

This (is) the same excuse that Safeway threw in employees' faces. Employees were the major cause of theft. Employees are a major cause of theft either by 1. stealing themselves, or by 2. not following proper procedures to reduce theft (ensuring that anti-theft devices on installed on high-ticket, high-theft items such as liquor and receiving and counting items into inventory accurately).

If this as truly the case, then why don't companies put safeguards in place?
While companies certainly have to put safeguards in place, how sad to blame the company for theft instead of the employee who is stealing! If my company doesn't adequately monitor the expense reports I file, is it not my fault if I falsify those reports and put in for non-business related expenses? Am I not the one stealing?

Safeway AUDITS the cashiers' drawers at least twice a day, sometime three. Any shortages are monitored and logged. If a cashier is consistently short, they are reprimanded. Suspensions, then termination. Bad elements are weeded out.
Fat chance firing an employee for stealing if they are in a union. My husband has actually caught employees stealing or failing to ring up groceries for family members that come through their lines but has been unable to fire them because of the ridiculous influence the union has on HR policy. Sure, the employee might get a suspension but how many of us non-unionized workers could steal outright from our company and keep our jobs?

The books have to be balanced everyday and shortages are earmarked. Now on the other hand, compare cashier shortages versus theft in a city store and theft is much higher. Security is not in place to monitor the thefts. Some companies refuse to staff the needed security and therefore choose to blame the employees. Inventory is done every three months and if there is a shortage between the stock and the final out-come the employees are blamed and watched. NEVER has it been proved that the SHORTAGE was employee caused, at least at the stores I have worked at.
Maybe inventory shortage isn't caused by employee theft alone but employees have everything to do with the success of a retailer's inventory control program.. Employees that refuse to follow SOP's, who turn a blind eye to theft and who actively participate in theft are a problem. Shrink is caused by many things...poor ordering, improper stock rotation, and yes, employee theft. But this survey really speaks to the front-end employee, many that are hard working and honest but also those that let their moms come through their line with $100 worth of groceries but only charge them $15 and those that take $25 out of the drawer and replace it with $25 worth of coupons from their pocket. If the reader has never seen a case where shortage was caused by employee theft, he wasn't looking very hard.

Without excusing anyone or anything, we still think that any retailer suffering the kinds of shrink described in the study ought to be asking itself about the relationship it has with its employees. Something is seriously wrong.

MNB user Alan Binder sent us the following email on the subject of disposable DVDs:

These days, nothing is secure. How long will it take for some computer whiz to figure out how to duplicate one of these disposable DVDs, and either add a "backup copy" to his shelf, or freely distribute the key to do so over the internet? Some major labels tried a CD copy-protection scheme a while back, which was defeated by a teenager with a black Sharpie pen and a record player (he used the pen to write over the copy protection track on the disk as it spun around on the record player). Only the original disk is "disposable"; how secure is the property on it if it can be easily stolen?

Good question.
KC's View: