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Employee Theft as a Contrary Indicator

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A new report on retail theft shows that number of incidents committed by employees was down last year, though instances had been on the rise for five consecutive years leading up to 2009.

The survey -- conducted by
Florida-based theft control consultant firm Jack L. Hayes International -- analyzed information from 25 large retail companies with 19,000 stores across the country. It found that in 2009, just more than 70,000 employees at these shops were caught with their hands in the company jar. That equaled a decrease of 9.4 percent compared to 2008. 

A total of $51 million in goods--
15.7 % less than in 2008-- was recovered from thieving staffers. 

Mark Doyle, president of  Jack Hayes International, told The Daily Feed that the change could be due to any number of factors or the combination of some variables, such as:

* companies have fewer employees

* big shops are employing fewer new hires and temps (those least invested in a company are most likely to steal)

* "borderline" employees have noted that times are tough in the U.S., and, says Doyle, "they're thinking, if I get caught, I might not get another job."

* stores have laid off the prevention loss personnel (to use the industry lingo) who'd normally catch employees stealing

So don't go marking this change up to improved morals or something pleasant like that. 

In actuality, the total number of shoplifting incidents reported in the survey jumped by 14.6%.
Most items were picked up by professional criminals who resell the products-- clothes, batteries, razors--on eBay.

But Doyle says his firm has also noted an increase in middle-class shoplifting, a trend first seen
in the UK and Europe. "This is where you see grocery store items stolen. Meat. Alcohol," says Doyle. "People rationalize it. They think,'I used to eat this all the time, now I can't afford it, so I'll just take it.'"

Got it. And with that, I think it's time for me to go take my lunch.

POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.