Theft! 5 Tips to Avoid Thieves in Your Restaurant

Theft is a problem for many restaurants that can eat away profits and cut into employee morale. Employees have been caught stealing from cash registers, taking products home with them, and have been involved in coupon fraud and other scams when they believe nobody is watching. Employee theft costs restaurants approximately 4% of sales, according to the National Restaurant Association (NRA). To help deter employee theft at your restaurant, follow these five tips:


Monitor Inventory and Food Costs

Restaurant owners understand that when costs are too high the viability of the business is at stake. By reviewing POS reports on a daily basis, monitoring food costs, and tracking inventory you will be able to quickly spot discrepancies and sudden spikes that may otherwise have gone unnoticed. While a sudden spike in food costs is not always related to theft, it is a valid reason for concern and should be investigated.   


Watch for Suspicious Behavior

Since suspicious behavior can be a prelude to theft or other unauthorized activity, owners need to be alert. Consult with employees who you believe are behaving out of character or are hanging around areas of the restaurant where they shouldn’t.


Always Balance Cash Drawers

With easy access to cash, the cash drawers are often the first sign an employee theft is occurring at the restaurant. Many thefts appear innocent and start small.  Ensure that the cash drawers are counted and in balance after every shift as well as investigate discrepancies.


Install a CCTV System

Many restaurants have installed a CCTV system to help deter employee theft. However, CCTV alone is not enough. It is also often used to determine whether or not a theft occurred, and who may be involved when suspicious activity has been reported. For example, if you notice the cash drawer is always short on a particular day or time, reviewing the CCTV footage could show you who is responsible.


Automate Time and Attendance

Getting paid for more hours than actually worked is a common employee theft that occurs at many restaurants. This can be significantly reduced and even eliminated with an automated time and attendance system. Require all employees to clock-in and out of their shift, without exception. An automated time and attendance system will not only give you an accurate accounting of all employees working on a given day, it will make it more difficult for them to fudge their hours.



  • Subscribe to our latest insights


Are you capital raise ready?