A big box retail store hired me to catch a thief. They’d determined that somewhere between the goods being off loaded at the dock and where the products hit the store shelves someone was helping themselves. In my experience it was going to be an employee.
My job wasn’t made any easier as the typical store manager response when they believe they have an employee stealing is to tell all the employees, “We know someone has been stealing and we are going to be keeping a close eye on the inventory.” Of course the manager is hoping that whoever is stealing will stop. It didn’t work. I like stupid criminals that don't get the message.
Security personnel recently rotated stores. A normal business practice for this retailer so I felt safe talking to the security supervisor responsible for the cameras. I had my IDENT list of all the employees working the dock areas. (IDENT - A list of employee names with their picture so I can identify them easily).
The security supervisor met me at the store one morning before they opened and we began the arduous task of viewing old videos of the dock. We had been at it for an hour. There was employee that kept moving on and off the dock out of view of the camera in a few of the videos. I was pretty sure I found the thief.
The supervisor pulled another video and we began to watch it. To save some time we were scrolling at 1.5 times the normal speed. On the screen there was a flash of red moving into view then quickly out of view. “Rewind it and let’s watch it at normal speed.” I noted the time on the video as 11:50am. The workers left the dock about that time. They all went to lunch together.
An older woman wearing a large red jacket walked up to the dock, looked around and took a box from the stack on the dock, put it under her jacket and walked away. We replayed it a few times. Then pulled up tapes from the same date and time of the back parking lot. The store backed up to an apartment complex. We could see her walking from an apartment building near the store toward the dock.
We found her on several other videos doing the same thing on different days. When I interviewed her, showed her the videos she confessed, admitted to taking items off and on over a period of a few months. What about the employee that kept disappearing? He was a smoker and would walk into the back parking lot to catch a smoke.
Lesson learned, with all my experience it’s not always how it appears.