On the Job
Lower level, wage slave jobs pay barely enough to make ends meet, with many having to work 2 and even 3 other jobs. That is, if the employer of the first job has a schedule that is compatible with the schedule of a second job or does not fire the wage slave for moonlighting. However, in certain desperate situations, it may very well be possible to "bite the hand that feeds you" from the inside.
As with all the content in Steal Now Pay Never sections, always consider risk vs reward. A palmed pack of cigarettes, item retrieved from being smuggled to the dumpster area, or even spare change siphoned from a till is probably worth much less than a continued paycheck. Even a minimum wage job, if worked 40 hours a week can be well over 1000 a month after taxes. Employees can be at best fired, and at worst arrested and placed on industry employment blacklists and criminal record databases with a huge fine and possible jail time. Of course, you can forget a reference or unemployment, too.
Also consider, while there a great many evil employers (we have all had some!), not all are crooked, abusive assholes. If you have a reputation for working hard, showing up on time, get along well, and have a good attitude, the good bosses have been known to give advances or lend money, give you raises, give rides, and even bail folks out of jail! All this just for not being a piece of shit.
Anti-Employee Theft Techniques
The number of types of businesses vary widely. A mom and pop restaurant is going to have totally different stuff available and inventory/supply control than a factory or a big-box store. We will go over some of the more common methods employers use to prevent employee theft. Most of these are in the realm of larger employers, but with outsourcing and spy gear getting cheaper is becoming more affordable. What is really troubling and unjust with many of these practices is that the worst Corporations seldom have the same paranoid policies towards middle and upper management as they do towards the common worker. Indeed, many executives get away far more serious stuff like embezzlement, insider trading, and cooking the books sometimes to the order of thousands and taking years to be caught, if ever - many times stealing directly from the employees they manage!
Before a person even gets hired, many employers use various ways to try to 'weed out' potential thieves. Of course, there is much debate on if many of these methods are truly as effective as advertised even in academic business circles - and some of it is borderline legal. But, it does not prevent employers from using them. Nor do all employers use these.
- Pre-Employment drug screen. Most of these programs are in place to comply with "Drug Free Workplace" requirements for insurance and tax discounts. But, these are also given due to the perception that someone who uses any drug that is not BigMed approved is a likely thief.
- Personality testing. From Get a Job: This is the latest fad among wage slave employers. We have even seen day labor outfits like LaborReady pull this. While the effectiveness is questionable, larger places use computerized or paper tests provided by outside consulting companies. The most common personality tests are the Stanton test and the Kronos test. The test asks the same 4 or 5 questions over and over with the wording slightly changed with some quick questions thrown in. These tests weed out these types of applicants: the chronically late, the impulsive, the kleptomaniac, the guy that does not get along, the guy that hates bosses/authority, and the depressed guy who is always in trouble and blames everyone else. Answer the questions like they want, regardless of what you may know to be true. The Stanton test can be a bit trickier with the questions, with stuff like, "if you accidentally received a soda out of a machine, would you return it?". The answer is no... no one would. Other answers are considered lying.
- Criminal Background Checks. Many places have unwritten policies that they do not hire for misdemeanors dealing with theft or shoplifting. This is regardless of wording on the application saying admission of a crime does not disqualify one from employment. We have also known of really nosy HR departments and bosses scanning the arrest sections in local newspapers after employment daily, searching for names they recognize.
- Industry Blacklists. While bordering on illegal, some employers do maintain paid service databases of names they can submit of those who were caught stealing from other places.
Get a Job has more on the employment system and employment issues.
In-Store Employee Anti Theft Measures
- Cameras. As we mention in Shoplifting, most places do use cameras. Just like we mention there, only the very large places have manned cameras. Most are recorded to rotated weekly tapes that can reviewed if something turns up missing or to be used in court if they catch someone red-handed. However, different things apply to an employee than just some Joe walking around in a store scanning for RFID tags to rip. The employer will say it is for safety in case of an armed robbery, but most of the time it is to catch the no-good, untrustworthy "help". Even the cheapest place keeps a camera on the register and a camera at all exits. Stealthy, high tech cameras are getting easy to pick up with vendors pitching their new products and even websites. Some of these new hidden cameras can be quite small and hard to detect. There are ones that look like clocks and even fire sprinklers! With employees (unlike customers), they can also put cameras in employee bathrooms! While technically illegal, as long as they do not use it in court, they can watch you and bust you with a search as you try to leave the building. However, most of the time, hidden cameras and other intrusive methods are usually only used if there has been suspicion of employee theft or if there is an area where employees have access to large volumes of valuable merchandise or cash. High tech toys other than what the store was originally fitted with raises supply costs which often comes out of a manager's bonus, which he or she would have to be losing a bit to justify the purchase. It can be funny that while the employer usually makes a wage slave sign an agreement not to bring in sound recorders or cameras to the job to protect against discrimination/ harassment or take pics of OSHA safe workplace violations, they are more than willing to use the all-seeing eye for their own agenda.
- Baggage checks. Many employers have as a condition of employment, make you sign a right for them to search any backpacks, purses, or bags you leave the building with. Large facilities even have designated employee entrances where a manager or loss prevention personnel are stationed. A few put up signs in employee parking that state if you park there, you consent to a search of your vehicle. Of course, places that provide lockers can, at any time, cut a lock on the locker and inspect the contents.
- Receipt Tracking. In some places like convenience stores and drive through fast food places, you have probably seen signs like "If you do not receive a receipt.. call this number" or "If you are asked to pay a different amount.. call this number." This is to prevent cashiers from collecting money without ringing up sales or re-using receipts. Restaurants, in particular, have systems like Micros and POS that leave paper trails along with strict policies not to give out any product without a copy of the order placed to the back. Some stores that have display models up front with a warehouse worker in the back keep a similar system where no items are to be brought up front unless rung up and copy of the ticket sent to the back.
- Locked Merchandise. Valuable items and even cleaning supplies, in addition to cameras, may be locked and require a manager's key to gain access to.
- Biometric fingerprint time clocks. An old scam where folks would get a buddy to clock in for them to get extra time at large places on the check for not working is foiled by this. We at STW are also very concerned about this growing practice as it gives a record of a fingerprint that, with proper connections, can get FBI and police records illegally without permission if the employer has a way to draw the fingerprint off the flash memory in the machine.
Below are some common, industry specific means that have proven successful. Of course, some places are a virtual candy store of liftable items while other jobs may have slim pickings due to what things are around and anti-theft measures. Simple things like pens and stationary are so easy as to be barely worth mentioning, but others may be worth at least knowing about.
The Trash Run
The inglorious job of taking out the trash can be a free ticket to liberating an item. While most of the stricter places will have a policy that a manager must supervise when an employee makes a run, few do this. Common corporate culture is that most bosses want as little to do with trash as possible. Simply get the item and put it into the bottom of a trash can. Then, but a bag on top with garbage. When it is time to take out the trash, take your treasure along with the trash to the dumpster. Place the item behind or disguised out of view outside the dumpster. Then, after your shift, you can pick the item up and to your crib.
And speaking of trash, if you are on trash duty, do not forget about the wonderful resource of free trash bags! No need to pay 5 to 20 USD to gift wrap your apartment garbage for the waste management companies. While most industrial use trash bags are clear to supposedly prevent employee theft, it really does not help because the bags line an opaque can. Most places, it is perfectly acceptable to walk around with the man's trash bags in your pocket if your job requires handling trash. If you 'accidentally' clock out and get caught leaving with the bags in your pocket, you could always say, "Oh, man.. I totally forgot they were in my pocket." and most bosses will not press further. Just don't have the clear trash bags lining the garbage can in your pad if the boss comes over to drink beer with you. That could be hard to explain.
Buffet and Restaurant Scams
If you are a waiter or waitress in a buffet restaurant or even just a salad bar and the place makes the server collect the money, there is a ingenious scam. The next time someone orders just a drink and a buffet/salad bar, print out two receipts. This second receipt is your ticket to get the ticket price of the drink plus buffet directly into your pocket if they pay cash! It is foolproof, too, as most self-serve type deals do not involve the kitchen. Simply present this same bill to every customer that has that order. If the customer presents a credit card, ring it up. If cash is presented, the cash is yours. Do not overdo this, as some places keep close tabs on food cost and will notice if they are spending way too much on food with no money coming while the customer count is high.
There are also micros scams, but the newer micros machines prevent some of the older scams from working by requiring a manager's card to approve due to the fact waiters were making bank. Most of these involve split tickets and the customer must pay with cash. What you do is present a complete check. When the customer gets ready to pay, split the check with the drinks separate and cash out the meal portion of the check, and giving correct change for the full check. When that table gets sat again, put the new meal orders on the same check that the still open check the drinks are on. This way, as long as customers pay cash, you are getting the price of the drinks straight into the server apron. Do not do this with bar drinks, as most of the time those are tracked at the bar.
The Walk-in Cooler and Freezer
If part of your duties is to clean, date, rotate, and stock a cooler in a convenience or grocery you may have the opportunity to score free food, beer, or drinks. Generic security cameras are usually not designed to work in such cold and humid environments and are less likely to be placed (although, a paranoid employer can get one - so be alert! Large chains are more likely to have this.). Most cameras are placed outside the walk-in door where employees enter and in the store watching the glass door customers open for beer. One method is taking advantage of the fact that many cans get damaged. Place a good beverage of your choice in the same garbage can that you are throwing broken down boxes, damaged goods, trash, and cans in. Then, use the Trash Run to liberate your beer! You can also, if your boss shy's away from the frigid conditions and being seen near actual work, even open a brew yourself and catch a buzz while you work. Do not overdo it or get shit-faced and carry mints, though. Put a dent in the can and put it on the floor. If a boss does come in and see it, claim it is a dented and damaged can.
Restaurants also keep coolers and freezers. If you have a cheap ass boss who does not even give you a meal plan and you are starving from from low pay, most places keep salad mix, pre-prepped food, etc that you can stealthily scarf down quick. You can also use the Trash Run technique here, if you are the one responsible for the cooler. One wage slave we knew took cases of steak wholesaled at over 100 USD a box this way simply by putting it at the bottom of the garbage can we was breaking down boxes in. When the manager would open the back door to let him out with trash, he would put the cardboard in the cardboard bin - and his month's worth of steaks hidden behind the dumpster. Do not do this too much with really expensive stuff. After the place lost about 1000 USD wholesale in steaks, they caught onto his scheme and fired him. Better stuff like beer in a restaurant is going to be more closely watched and locked with only manager access since it is a known fact most service industry workers are big drinkers. You will have to be a bartender or manager (or be in good with one of these) to liberate this in a restaurant.
Working at a bookstore
Working at one of the two corporate book chains provides ample opportunities for shoplifting. The main technique these stores use to prevent employee theft are bag checks at the end of the day. The simple way to get past this is to buy one of those backpacks that has two full zippered compartments. Stuff the books in one compartment, and open up the other for your manager as you're walking out. These bag checks are kind of a joke anyway, and not much scrutiny is put into them. The best time to stuff books into your bag is to grab some to read on your lunch break in the back room. Odds are there will be a moment where no one is around, and you can just go stuff the books in your pack. If there's people popping in and out, one good idea is to grab the books from the shelf, walk directly into the back room and if no one's looking at that moment, go right into the employee bathroom with your books. There will likely be boxes of extra bathroom supplies or cleaning materials, and you can hide your books in or under these boxes. At the end of the shift, bring your backpack with you for your last bathroom run, and when the toilet is flushing or the faucet is going, use the sound cover to grab your books and stuff them in your not-so-secret pocket.
Donation Bin Sorter
If you're moving to a new city a good first job can be at one of the warehouse thrift shops. They don't insist on checking your references since they have no capital to lose employing you, and you can often get huge deals on all you can fit in your buddies car/backpack/arms sales on all their free clothing and furniture. This way you can make something towards rent, although your ARE being degraded sorting through peoples garbage for minimum wage.
Obviously, the higher up in the organization you are, the more you can get away with because you are entrusted with more things. The manager has the key to the place, counts the money, knows inventory policies, and usually only has to deal with a distant district manager who may only show up on a weekly basis. With enough study on the procedures the company uses for accounting and inventory, products can be ripped off or even cash sponged from the drawer and it could be a week, months, or even years depending on the corporate office's accounting department until anyone catches on... if ever.
We have known of managers that use the company safe as a small loan bank, "damaged" goods ending up at the house, to even "planned robberies" where the manager is on the cut.
At the higher levels, District bosses, CEOs, and VPs are well known to get away with siphoning funds, sometimes legally, uncaught and unopposed for years.
Original ON THE JOB
By far the easiest and most productive method of stealing is on the job. Wages paid to delivery boys, sales clerks, shippers, cashiers and the like are so insulting that stealing really is a way of maintaining self-respect. If you are set on stealing the store dry when you apply for the job, begin with your best foot forward. Make what employment agencies call a "good appearance." Exude cleanliness, Godliness, sobriety and all the other WASPy virtues third grade teachers insist upon. Building up a good front will eliminate suspicion when things are "missing."
Mail clerks and delivery boys can work all sorts of neat tricks. When things get a little slow, type up some labels addressed to yourself or to close friends and play Santa Claus. Wrap yourself a few packages or take one that is supposed to go to a customer and put your label over theirs. Blame it on the post office or on the fact that "things get messed up `cause of all the bureaucracy." It's great to be the one to verbalize the boss's own general feelings before he does when something goes awry. The best on-the-job crooks always end up getting promoted.
Cashiers and sales persons who have access to money can pick up a little pocket change without too much effort, no matter how closely they are watched by supervisors. Women can make use of torn hems to stash coins and bills. Men can utilize cuffs. Both can use shoes and don't forget those secret little pockets you learned about in the last section. If you ring up items on a cash register, you can easily mistake $1.39 for 39¢ or $1.98 for 98¢ during the course of a hectic day. Leave pennies on the top shelf of the cash register and move one to the far right side every time you skip a dollar. That way at the end of the day, you'll know how much to pocket and won't have to constantly be stuffing, stuffing, stuffing.
If you pick up trash or clean up, you can stick all sorts of items into wastebaskets and later sneak them out of the store.
There are many ways of working heists with partners who pose as customers. See the sections on free food and clothing for these. There are also ways of working partnerships on the job. A cashier at a movie theater and a doorman can work out a system where the doorman collects the tickets and returns them to the cashier to sell again.
A neat way to make a large haul is to get a job through an agency as a domestic for some rich slob. You should use a phony identification when you sign up at the agency. Once you are busy dusting the town house, check around for anything valuable to be taken home. Pick up the phone, order all sorts of merchandise, and have it delivered. A friend with a U-haul can help you really clean up.