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Here Are 4 Cash Register Theft Techniques That Employers Should Know About

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By Vicky Monroe

Business Basics

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Cash register theft techniques

Did you know that 75% of employees have admitted to stealing from their employer? About 90% of significant theft-related business losses are due to dishonest employees who steal. You would think workers would be more loyal to the employer that signs their paycheck. But sadly, you have to keep an eye on your employees and watch out for common cash register theft techniques. Employees have easy access to all the money that flows into your business and sadly may feel entitled to skim some cash off the top. Here are some ways employees may try to steal from you and measures you can take to prevent business losses.

4 Common Cash Register Theft Techniques


One of the most common cash register theft techniques is called skimming. In this scenario, a sticky-fingered employee will charge a customer the full price of the items they’re purchasing and then pocket some of the cash illegally. If the employee rings the purchase into the POS system, this will result in a cash register imbalance.

However, if the employee running the register is also counting the cash at the end of the day, they could cover up the cash shortfall and get away with the crime. Having one employee manage the register and another perform the cash reconciliation can help prevent imbalances from going unnoticed and deter potential thieves.

Pocketing Cash From Unrecorded Sales

Theft can be even harder to detect if the guilty employee doesn’t ring up the transaction. In that case, there’s no record of the purchase and no cash register imbalance. The only evidence that’s left behind is a mismatch between your company’s inventory and recorded sales. Inventory discrepancies can be caused by numerous factors such as recording errors and misplaced products, which makes this type of theft hard to trace back to the employee who stole.

Luckily the latest technology allows you to train security cameras on your cash register and integrate them into your POS system. If a cashier isn’t ringing up some of the items the customer puts on the counter, the video of the interaction will be flagged as suspicious so you can review it.

Fraudulent Refunds

One of the cash register theft techniques that can easily go unnoticed is a fraudulent refund. A dishonest employee may refund a customer’s purchase after they leave the store and steal the money. If the customer paid with a credit card, a particularly brazen employee may even try to refund the transaction to his or her own credit card.

Requiring employees to indicate the reason for returns can help reduce fraudulent refunds. Many POS systems can also generate a return history report. Reviewing this report will enable you to determine if a particular customer or employee is generating an excessive number of returns and investigate.

Blunt Theft

Another type of cash register crime to watch out for is blunt theft. This crime involves stealing cash from the register without any kind of cover story like a return or void, which is why it’s described as blunt. Customers may also try to steal from the cash register by leaning over the counter when employees aren’t looking and grabbing cash.

Cameras can help prevent blunt theft, especially if you put up signs indicating that the checkout area is being monitored and criminals will be prosecuted. A dishonest employee may be more likely to steal when they’re alone and think they can get away with it. So having multiple employees or a manager present during every shift can discourage wayward employees from attempting this blatant, obvious form of theft.

As for customer theft, installing an alarm on the register that sounds when it remains open for too long can help prevent shoppers from reaching into an unattended register and taking cash.

Although it’s sad that employers have to monitor their employees so closely, keeping an eye on your workers will help you greatly reduce employee theft. Has an employee ever stolen from your business? What steps do you take to prevent employee theft? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!

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