Taking the Store

A Loss Prevention Perspective


By EDITED BY COLIN MAY, CFE, AND MARK F. ZIMBELMAN, PH.D., CPA, EDUCATOR ASSOCIATE MEMBER

Starting Out 

Inventory shrinkage is the difference between a company’s adjusted book inventory level and the physical amount of inventory. The four main components of inventory shrinkage are employee theft, shoplifting, clerical errors, and vendor fraud. According to the University of Florida’s 2004 National Retail Security Survey, employee theft accounted for $17.6 billion, or 47 percent, of the year’s total inventory loss. This astounding figure is an unnecessary expense that directly impacts store profitability.

During the fraud examination course at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, I learned ways to prevent and detect various fraud schemes. The course work gave me relevant training for my current internal auditor position and increased my understanding of the services I provided when I was a loss prevention (LP) associate for a large retailer during my undergraduate studies.

Following are two short cases that illustrate the low-risk, high-reward mind-set of experienced fraudsters. The cases should bring to mind the fraud triangle and the importance of internal controls.


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