It’s that time of year when thoughts turn to autumn leaves, chilly temperatures, and for kids (and the young at heart) costumes and candy. In 2021, consumers spent $4.6 billion on candy during the eight weeks leading up to Halloween, according to the National Confectioners’ Association. More people hand out Skittles to trick or treaters than any other candy. In 2019, Americans purchased approximately 3.3 million pounds of the rainbow candies; Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were a close second with 3 million pounds. Candy corn, with its orange, yellow, and white stripes is one of the most loved and hated Halloween candies It was invented in late 1880s by George Renninger and originally called Chicken Feed.
Selling Halloween candy is a big business. Bags of candy fly off the shelves at local stores. And sometimes kids who encounter a bowl of candy on someone’s doorstep, dump the whole bowl into their trick or treat bags. However, candy also sometimes goes missing from manufacturers’ warehouses.
A few years ago, three people stole $32,000.00 worth of candy from a Hershey warehouse in Illinois. Two warehouse employees and a security guard stole chocolate bars and other candy from the warehouse by the truckload over a three-month period. They “worked out a deal with the security guard to let them into the facility,” said Granite City Police Major Rich Miller. “They’d share some of what they took with him for letting them in.” Detectives found approximately 13 cases of candy in one of the suspect’s garages. The theft was discovered when management noticed a significant amount of Hershey candy products were missing during an inventory count. “It’s amazing what some people will steal, the position they put themselves into — to get arrested and lose their jobs for something so trivial,” Miller said.
Warehouse theft is no joking matter. According to a warehouse theft statistic by Loss Prevention Magazine, “cargo theft is a $15-$30 billion problem each year in the United States.” As a forensic accounting firm, SDC frequently investigates claims involving inventory theft. With so much inventory at stake, it’s important for employers to take steps to protect their warehouses—and not just from external thieves. As with the Hershey candy heist, employees are often part of the problem. Employees who feel as if they’re being underpaid and overworked are more likely to misappropriate inventory or monies. It’s important to value your employees and to keep an eye on morale.
For employers looking to mitigate or prevent warehouse theft, Loss Prevention magazine offers these tips:
- Start by performing background checks prior to hiring individuals. Although background checks may be time consuming, they are the first step to prevention.
- Have clear, concise written policies and procedures regarding theft. Educate your employees (new hires and employees who have been on the job for longer) on these policies. Loss Prevention recommends the written policy include, but not be limited to:
- A definition of the purpose of the policy. Why is it important and what things can be stolen?
- An explanation of the consequences of theft for the individual and for the company as a whole.
- An outline of roles and responsibilities. Who distributes the policy, implements it, and provides the consequences?
- Limit access to stock. Creating different sections in the warehouse that only certain employees can access, gives managers the ability to monitor who accesses that stock.
- Keep roles and responsibilities separate. No one employee should control the process from beginning to end. Roles of receiving, picking, loading, shipping, and performing inventory counts should be handled by different employees.
- Perform regular inventory counts. Without frequent inventory counts, employers will have a difficult time figuring out what went missing, when, and who may have been responsible.
- Install a security system with surveillance cameras.
Taking these steps can help employers better protect their inventory. It may keep an employee from being the adult equivalent of one of those kids who takes the whole bowl and candy and gets away with it!
Nowak, Claire. “Twelve Surprising Things You Didn’t Know About Halloween Candy.” Reader’s Digest, July 27, 2022. https://www.rd.com/list/halloween-candy-facts/. Last accessed October 7, 2022.
Security Infowatch.com. “Three Workers are Charged with Internal Hershey Candy Heist.” Security Infowatch.com, November 4, 2004. ttps://www.securityinfowatch.com/critical-infrastructure/press-release/10594931/belleville-news-democrat-via-associated-press-three-workers-are-charged-with-internal-hershey-candy-heist. Last accessed October 7, 2022.
Sunol, Hector. “How to Prevent Theft in the Warehouse.” Cyzerg Warehouse Technology, November 19, 2020. https://articles.cyzerg.com/how-to-prevent-theft-in-the-warehouse. Last accessed October 7, 2022.