Retailers routinely deal with theft and fraud. While newer businesses might anticipate a bigger threat from petty shoplifting, internal theft is often more common. Yes, employees who join your team might end up doing more harm than good for your business.
When this does happen, retailers can turn to restitution as an effective remedy. But how should a fair-minded retailer approach restitution?
What Is Restitution?
Restitution is a form of civil recovery, a legal means available for victims of theft and fraud to reclaim damages and/or losses. In the retail world, restitution is a method businesses typically use to recoup monetary damages which are the result of fraudulent activity.
When employees have committed theft, restitution may be recouped in several ways; as part of a restitution agreement between the employee and the employer, if prosecuted as part of a plea deal or as ordered by the court.
In addition to providing an avenue for reclaiming losses, civil recovery methods such as restitution or civil demand can deter future employees who might consider stealing from their retail employer.
Approaching Restitution to Ensure Civil Recovery
Suppose you have just discovered one of your employees has been stealing from your business. Perhaps you’re a restaurant using exception-based reporting to identify irregularities at the point of sale, and you’ve flagged a fraudulent server because of an excessive number of voided orders during their shifts. Or you’ve uncovered internal theft at your retail business through leveraging third-party analytics.
What do you do next?
First, document as much as possible about the situation. Gather as much information as you can about the employee, including contact details, history within your company, other employment records, what they stole and how. Collecting such data will help your loss prevention team, whether they are internal or external, expedite the investigation and potential restitution.
Once you’ve compiled all the appropriate information regarding the employee and the fraudulent incident, immediately get it into the hands of your loss prevention team. This enables them to promptly follow up.
If you’re partnering with an experienced loss prevention vendor, they will likely do additional research regarding your employee and the incident. It’s possible the employee has stolen or performed fraudulent transactions in the past or is not acting alone. These situations are usually much more complex than they appear on the surface, you’ll be grateful you enlisted the resources available.
Working With the Right Loss Prevention Partner
While retailers can approach restitution without enlisting the help of an external party, having the support of an experienced loss prevention firm can save a lot of time and stress.
A well-established loss prevention firm will have strong relationships within court systems and law enforcement departments across the country, helping them process restitution claims efficiently and effectively.
For many retailers, especially smaller- to medium-sized enterprises, civil recovery can be an unfamiliar or daunting process. You want to get it right, but may be uncertain you’re gathering all the necessary information or abiding by the proper legal precedents. Keep in mind, civil recovery is statutes based, meaning legal procedures and standards can vary from state to state. A third-party loss prevention partner will know which laws apply to which jurisdictions.
When you work with the right loss prevention firm, you can rest assured the restitution process is fair and well-positioned to ensure civil recovery in a timely manner.
The Zellman Group's risk-averse approach to restitution is led by our Chief Counsel Michael Ira Asen and our network of attorneys located throughout the United States and Canada. Our team of expert investigators and attorneys will collect all pertinent information needed for you to recover what you're owed. Contact us today to learn more.