With maybe hundreds of thousands of saleable products and materials in storage, distribution centres are tempting targets for theft by internal and external perpetrators. Effective prevention means guarding against theft by both external and internal perpetrators. However it’s the threat from within your warehouse walls which probably needs the most attention.
Employee Theft Prevention: Tackling the Threat Within
It’s a sad fact that the risk of theft by employees is greater than that posed by external parties. Unless your perimeter security is very poor, your storage facilities are much more likely to lose inventory through the misdeeds of staff than as a result of a break-in.
Of course DC theft prevention plans also need to consider the risk of theft by visiting drivers and employees of other companies who enter your premises in the course of their work.
If you’re looking for some ways to improve theft prevention in your distribution centre, the following six tips will help you keep internal or external employees from helping themselves to inventory:
- Implement manned checkpoints at site entrances: All vehicles leaving your distribution centre should be inspected before being allowed to exit the site. In a smaller site, where security checkpoints are not practical, have a manager or supervisor regularly stop exiting vehicles at random, to carry out inspections.
- Separate receiving and shipping Docks: If possible, try to have a physical barrier between receiving and shipping areas. If you can’t physically separate the two areas, you should at least keep some distance between them; unless of course you are operating a cross-docking operation.
In most warehouse scenarios, you want to make it difficult for goods to come off an inbound truck and disappear straight onto an outbound one.
- Keep stored inventory away from loading/unloading docks: Maintain a clear distance of at least ten feet between your cargo doors and any pick faces or inventory storage areas. The only goods that should be near to your shipping and receiving doors are those which are part of inbound or outbound orders.
- Locate warehouse manager’s office for maximum visibility: An elevated office within the warehouse will provide your warehouse managers with a broad field of view across the floor. This will help with theft prevention in your distribution centre, not only because of the improved visibility for managers, but also because employees know they might be under observation at any time.
- Keep private vehicles out of the yard: Locate employee and visitor parking in a separate lot, separated from the operational areas of your DC by a fence or wall with controlled access and egress.
- Provide an enclosed facility for drivers: Visiting truck drivers should not be allowed to hang around in your warehouse, yard or on loading docks. Provide them with a lounge or similar facility and insist they remain there while their vehicles are loaded or unloaded. Keeping all but essential operatives from storage areas is a vital part of theft prevention in your distribution centre.
Don’t Get Soft on Employee Theft
Most employees are honest and know better than to bite the mouth that feeds them. Sadly though, there is always a minority that will be willing to take advantage of their positions. That doesn’t mean you should tolerate even the smallest amount of inventory shrinkage.
Try to apply the six tips described in this post and do whatever else you can to strengthen theft prevention. If you should catch someone stealing inventory from your warehouse, it’s vital to take definitive action. While unpleasant to undertake, making examples of thieves will help deter anyone thinking about getting in on the act.
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