Crime and the management of losses - Business Works
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Crime and the management of losses

Paul Burton, Founder, Black Wizards Detective Agency It makes me smile now that I am getting to the end of my career as an investigator, says Paul Burton, founder of the Black Wizards Detective Agency. As a former Police Inspector and private investigator, Paul and his team offer their many years of experience in investigation, undercover work and detection skills to expose corruption and theft for a wide range of business and corporate clients. In this article, he shares some controversial views and recommendations on how to protect your buisness.

I have always held the view that two out of three staff are corrupt, but only one out of three of your customers is corrupt. Your own staff steal 70% of all your losses, so why do the Security Professionals set cameras up on the outside of the building and not look at the staff on the inside?

Likewise, I admire the company that sells signs saying 'Cold Calling Forbidden', ”Burglars beware!', or 'Crime Watch Area'. If, as we know, half of those people 'inside' [prison!] can't read, who is reading those signs? Yes, it's a placebo. As is the successful Government introduction of new laws - ASBOs, Tagging and the-like - whilst at the same time reducing the Police's ability to 'police'. As we know, mentioning the name of 'Jimmie Saville' will get more response than the word 'burglary'.

time for honesty in the area of crime

It really is time for honesty in the area of crime - although none of the professionals has any interest (except police who are clueless) in reducing crime figures or the reduction of crime as it is now big business. Group4 has 5 times the number of police cars and dogs – and they make a profit!

OK, so what can I do, I hear you say. Well ...

  1. The first thing to check is who has access to your premises. Interrogate your alarm system, then check all the call-out numbers are up to date and change the code.
  2. Ensure that you have a 'clean desk policy' at night and weekends. Lock away your secrets so that no one can steal your ideas.
  3. Think what YOU would want to steal from your premises. Think how you would do it and guess someone has already been there before you.
  4. Remember, two-thirds of staff working for your delivery team know your weeknesses and under-deliver to you (with or wothout your staff helping).
  5. Walk around your perimeter fencing and see if your gates can be lifted off the hinges. Look to see if vegitation is concealing the 'unofficial staff exit for goods'. Check if there are lengths of fencing that open to let in vehicles on Saturday afternoons.

Believe it or not, I've seen ...

  • catapults being used to fire £2 coins over hedges for collection later.
  • shops opening on Sundays without the manager's knowledge.
  • extra tills being put into supermarkets for the manager's benefit.
  • HGVs with the same number being used to steal returns.
  • alarms being set 'off' 3 times in a week so that police don't attend.

The crooks may not be able to read that well, but they certainly have 'animal cunning'. Take this story as an example ...

I looked after warehouses for a trade body for 30 years. Recently, one of the top warehouse keepers rang with a tickelish problem. An Irish labourer had stopped his car and told him they were digging a clearly visible gas pipe into the road outside his office. For £500 they would connect up the big gas pipe to a direct source inside the office. They would connect up the heating and canteen to the gas direct and then the 'free' gas would enter the building after the meter!

In two days, the men dug from the big pipe to his offices, buried the piping and turned on the gas jets in the ovens. Job done - £500 paid out!

if it looks too good to be true, it probably is

Three days after the men had gone, the gas supply stopped. I was called in to sort it out. Near the gas pipe I found the buried gas bottle which they had connected to the pipes and ovens! He had no course of action, but to take it on the chin! If it looks too good to be true,it probably is.

Controversially, stealing often runs in families and an interesting fact is that a new employee will start stealing in his first month - if he's not caught, then he will have a lifetime of theft. Interestingly, we found at one place that 'Uncle Tommy' had stolen over £1 million of property over his 40 years with his company. He had 'dobbed in' (shopped) several staff and had been given rewards by management for so doing. 'Tommy' had worked out that any of his stock thefts would be written off by implicating other junior employees. He never over-did it and, although he had stolen millions, he had nothing to show for it as he drunk most of it away.

I want you to look out for a guy called Rupert. He will be mid 30s to early 40s. He was my cleverest thief!

Hailing from the Midlands, he was at genius-level on computers. At 23, he 'manipulated' £30 million of company products. He was only trapped because of a coincidence involving CCTV looking at the manager's office which was clearly empty and Rupert was taking his lunch at his desk. Rupert was using the manager's ID to enter the stock records and move £2000 worth of boilers around the company. He had them delivered to friends for real and then cancelled and returned them to stock ficticiously (great fun!).

Rupert and I spoke for 4 hours before he confessed. He wasn't prosecuted as he had left a time-bomb in the company's accounts which would wipe out all records. The Auditors couldn't find out how much he had stolen, but certainly it was hundreds of thousands. He was caught accidentally, but, beware, he is still out there.

the obvious is nearly always wrong

Remember, the obvious is nearly always wrong and when you get ready for work next, realise which side you are on. The criminals are watching you! They are creatures of habit. They know where you live. Think it through!

My blessings to you all!

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