June 15, 2018

Ask the Retail Experts: Better LP investigations and tighter policies



Dear Experts,

A former Chipotle employee was just awarded $8 million after she was accused of stealing $636. How can I protect my company from this kind of situation?

— Regional Director, Audit


As a former retail auditor, this story certainly caught my attention. No company wants to deal with a lawsuit, but the right tools, along with well-documented, stringent policies, can help you avoid ending up in the same boat.


Communicate about potential fraud properly. Instead of text messages and other easily erasable methods, communicate in a formal, centralized reporting system where you can share notes and information with your colleagues.


Track deposits carefully. In this case, the $636 was an overage in the store’s safe because the armored car service never came to pick it up, and it went missing soon after. With proper deposit tracking tools, you can see in real time where a deposit is, if it wasn’t picked up or if it wasn’t prepared at all.


Limit access to the safe. In this case, five different employees had access to the store’s safe – far too many. Set a maximum number of employees with access to the safe per store or per shift to limit the opportunity for theft.


Set clear policies and standards. And even more importantly, make sure all employees understand them. Can an employee review video footage? In Chipotle’s case, it’s been reported that there was no written policy on a suspicious employee viewing footage, but managers refused to allow it anyway. If managers or field-level LP employees don’t have documented procedures to follow in an investigation, your company could get into hot water.


There are many technologies available that are designed to help you do your loss prevention job better. But any technology you and your team implement should complement tight, comprehensive policies – both for store employees and for your team in an investigation.