POS Best Practices: Spotting Counting Strategies to Deter Theft

10th November 2014
american money in a stack

Employees using “counting” strategies to keep track of theft they have committed at the Point of Sale (POS) is an old and common trick. As the POS reports managers use have become more complex, the methodology employees require to successful steal have evolved as well. Employees who can’t remember how much they have taken in cash (but not rung in properly) at the POS, risk being caught, so they utilize “counting” strategies.

Common Counting Methods

  • Placing pennies in the dime drawer
  • Placing bills upside down in the drawer
  • Using small scraps of paper in the till
  • Moving items (like straws, bar garnishes, napkins or cups) from one side of the POS to the other

How Does Counting Work

Here is a common theft scenario at a QSR: A cashier decides they will be using Combo #1’s as their theft mechanism during a shift (check out this post for helpful ways to spot theft at the POS). When someone orders that combo, they ring it up on the POS and subtotal it so the customer can see the amount owed. Once the customer has paid for their combo in cash, the employee doesn’t complete the sale. Instead they clear the order, open the till to provide change (if needed) and place the cash in the drawer. At the same time, they take a single penny and put it with their dimes.

Once their shift is over and they need to turn their till in, the employee quickly counts their misplaced pennies to calculate how many combos worth of cash they’ve made for themselves. They then pocket the ‘overage’, ensuring that the cash in their till will match the tape from the POS.

How to Spot Counting

  • Watch for instances in a cashier’s till where they are combining change, keeping certain things separate, or placing bills facing opposite ways.
  • As a deterrent, spot audit cashiers during their shift. Be wary of those who ask to be audited at specific times (the moments they know they’ve got a clean till).
  • Regularly run reports that track abnormal amounts of cleared or subtotaled orders that are never completed. More on automating this here.
  • Track cashiers who want items voided after they’ve learned their cash doesn’t balance or who conveniently ‘find’ the $20 bill they are short (when they’ve miscalculated how much was stolen and removed too much money).
  • Watch for employees who have heavy tills. A heavy till can mean they’ve lost count of how much has been skimmed (or the till was pulled from them before they could remove their cash).

How are you deterring employee theft at your restaurant? Get in touch with us at support@livelenz.com and let us know. Or learn more about how Livelenz helps make restaurant cash management easier here.


Image Source: A Flickr Creative Commons photo of Money, Money, Money! by peddhapati

Chief Operating Officer at LIVELENZ. Greg began working part-time in restaurants when he was 15 and continued in the industry for a decade. He then began working for technology companies developing a passion for improving operational efficiencies at fast-growing organizations.

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