Types Of Employee Theft And Motives

Oct, 6 2021·2 min read

FinFind, a financial services company, together with the Department of Small Business Development and other business groups, published a report showing how Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMME’s) bore the burden of the Coronavirus Lockdown. 42.7% Of small businesses were forced to close down due to financial problems and the inability to operate. 

The aftermath of the lockdown and the deteriorating economy is felt, not only by business owners but also by employees who are faced with salary cuts and increased financial liabilities. This has resulted in businesses, especially the retail industry, experiencing a rise in employee theft and making it even harder for businesses to recover.   

According to the US Chamber of Commerce, an estimated 75% of employees, given the opportunity, will steal from their workplace.

Types of Employee Theft


Skimming occurs when an employee takes cash before it is entered into the books. This often looks like a simple human error when it is done in small amounts; until greediness takes over and the employee starts taking larger amounts of money. Skimming schemes are cover up with different methods to make it difficult to spot.

Under Ringing

Under ringing is when the cashier accounts for fewer products than what the customer paid for. They then keep the balance for themselves. This kind of theft is only detectable after an inventory count is done and compared with the sales report.

Product Theft

As the name states, this kind of theft is when employees steal products or office supplies. The loss of these products will have an impact on profit margins.


Sweethearting is when employees give their friends and families discounts or products. This type of theft can come in the form of under ringing or product theft and is covered up by voiding sales or failing to scan products.

Time Theft

Unlike the previous types of thefts, this one does not involve the theft of something tangible. It happens when employees get full compensation for working fewer hours than stipulated in their contracts. For instance, an employee can leave work early or return late from their breaks. As the saying goes, “Time is money”.

Reasons For Employee Theft

Employees often believe that the following are good motives for stealing:

  1. They are overworked and underpaid.
  2. They believe the impact of their theft will not be felt.
  3. They know that they can get away with it.
  4. They see it as part of their pay.
  5. They believe they deserve the ‘little bonus’.
  6. They feel wronged, mistreated or unappreciated.

SME owners face the difficult task of keeping their businesses running during a period where a lot of factors, such as the rise of employee theft, makes it close to impossible for some. The insight gathered from the various motives of employee theft suggests that businesses owners should not only look at improving their security but also employee satisfaction.

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