By Paul Schlienz


Theft can happen at your hotel or restaurant, but there are ways you can minimize the risk. Eye on Hospitality recently talked with Doug Rector, president of Northwest Loss Prevention Consultants, in Renton, about strategies for preventing theft.

“A big mistake a restaurant can make is not having systems in place,” said Rector. “Employees not adhering to polices, when they are put in place is another problem, but employers are also part of the problem when they have an attitude that theft is a cost of doing business.”

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Rector recommends camera systems to catch thieving employees. And he also stresses that mystery shoppers can often detect problems like theft in a place of business.

“If you suspect theft, consider using a mystery shopping company that utilizes licensed private investigators to perform integrity investigations,” said Rector. “Licensed investigators are insured and licensed.”

For hotels, he also recommends a strong loss prevention policy.

“Don’t allow the housekeeping crew to let someone in a room if they say they forgot their key,” he warns hoteliers. “Encourage guests to use the safe and investigate all complaints regarding theft. Do background checks for all employees and invest in hallway camera systems. The concern is guests missing items from their room, and not verifying identification if someone comes to the front desk saying they lost their key.”

His advice to hotel guests: “When you leave the room, turn on the TV or radio and keep a light on. This gives the appearance someone is in the room.”

For both hotels and restaurants, Rector recommends preemployment background screening for all employees.

“Make it known that any employee caught stealing will be prosecuted, have a proactive loss prevention policy in place and have employees sign it,” he urges. “Consider using a good mystery shopping program, and have cashiers own their own cash drawers for the entire shift,.”

Rector also cautions employers to be aware of red flag indicators of theft or the risk of theft. These indicators include employees who brag about gambling, employees with garnishments and workers who are living above their means.

While theft is not something employers like to think could happen to them, it is a real problem. Take action, and don’t be a victim.