Employee theft is a very big issue and can be very difficult to deal with in the industry. It can also bankrupt a restaurant very quickly. Theft of product generally occurs when employees feel they are “owed”, i.e. “I don’t get paid enough for all the work I do and all the hassle I put up with”, so they take product to make up for it.
Theft of high end items: high priced meats, liquors and wines is unfortunately quite common and is definitely done deliberately. Generally done by managers or employees who are alone on a shift is a high factor in this type of crime. Employees who are alone on shift know that most restaurants don’t have security cameras or measures in place to deal with theft. They don’t think anything of slipping that bottle of Jack Daniels into their pack because who’s going to prove they took it and they are generally among those that felt “owed” or they have a history of doing at other establishments.
Unscrupulous management gets away with this much more easily; they are the ones with the keys and often the ones doing the inventory. It’s not very difficult for them to put down on inventory that they have 15 cases of Iron Horse Merlot and 16 on hand and then bring home a case. Who watches the watchmen?
You as the owner are the King of the watch, assign different employees to do inventory and do unexpected inventory checks randomly and let your employees know it. You would be surprised how much it cuts down on theft of product. The time you may think it costs you will more then make up for itself.
Another very good reason to spot check your inventory, most thefts of this nature are not found until the employee in question no longer works at the establishment and your new bar manager does an inventory and informs you that you are short 10 cases or wine and 2 of hard liquor. This kind of employee theft is very hard to prove after the fact unless you can catch them red handed.
Treating your employees well and letting them know you value them will cut down on the vast majority of this casual theft. Other employee theft also runs along the lines of not being aware that the piece of pie that they are snacking on without asking or paying for adds up. An employee who eats two small packages of snack crackers every shift he or she works is suddenly costing you an extra $12.00 a week.
Having had to carefully review “current” inventories when I came on board as a chef to restaurants and currently reviewing places that have problems, it is sadly much more common then most owners and operators know. Theft of product can cause, and has been a major cause, in restaurants going under. A small restaurant with $500 plus a week walking out the door can make or break it.