By John Kariuki
Abraham Njoroge is a retailer and wholesaler for consumer goods in Nakuru. According to him, the 80s was a good decade and businesses flourished. But when he did his accounting, Njoroge realised that his returns always fell short of his expectations. He installed human sentries at strategic corners of his premise to discourage shoplifters and ordered a mandatory check on all staff at the end of the day. But his sums never added up.
Njoroge invested a fortune in a then novel closed circuit television circuit (CCTV) surveillance system. The system was installed over a public holiday and nobody knew of its existence. The monitor was installed in his office which he always locked while away. This business owner would periodically glance at the monitor of the CCTV and catch his employees at their antics.
"It was unbelievable to spot even my managers hiding things away so that they could walk out with them later," says Njoroge.
He says that the favourite trick was for his employees to hide small items in their overalls and head straight to the parking lot where they would hand these over to their waiting accomplices. So Njoroge decided to walk out to anyone who had pocketed an item, and conversationally ask him or her to surrender it.
"Everybody would be shocked when I would describe the stolen item and pull it from whenever it had been hidden. I gained notoriety amongst my staffers as dabbling in magic," says Njoroge.
With Njorogeâs newfound mystic status, the pilfering stopped immediately and his figures began adding up. But before anybody could demystify his source of magic, Njoroge moved fast.
"I used the lull to vet my staffers and change their attitude, both of which are the surest ways of taming theft than electronic gizmos," says Njoroge.
There are as many tricks that a business can use to tame employee fraud. This is because the cumulative effect of employee theft on small to medium firms can be devastating on a firmâs bottomline. With the twin challenges of competition and financial constraints, no business can ill afford to ignore the problem of employee theft.
Unfortunately, many Kenyan entrepreneurs are ignorant about threat posed by employee theft and regard it as part of the cost of doing business
But James Kioko, a financial analyst with one accounting firm, says that while all forms of theft cannot be eradicated, most can be minimised with a little effort.
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