Australian Newsagency Blog

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A Theft Policy is key to reducing the impact of theft in any retail business

Mark Fletcher
May 19th, 2018 · 54 Comments

Issue this Theft Policy in your business, have all team members sign it and place it is a place where team members can see it every day. Doing this establishes your commitment on the issue as well as your policy and practices related to the issue. Following through on the policy is key for without discipline in this area the cost of theft in your business will be higher than it should be.


  1. Theft, any theft, is a crime against this business, its owners, employees and others who rely on us for their income.
  2. If you discover any evidence or have any suspicion of theft, please report it to the business owner or most senior manager possible immediately. Doing so could save a considerable cost to the business.
  3. We have a zero tolerance policy on theft. All claims will be reported to law enforcement authorities for their investigation.
  4. From time to time we have the business under surveillance in an effort to reduce theft. This may mean that you are photographed or recorded in some other way. By working here you accept this as a condition of employment.
  5. New employees may be asked to provide permission for a police check prior to commencement of employment. Undertaking the police check will be at our discretion.
  6. Cash is never to be left unattended outside the cash drawer or a safe within the business.
  7. Credit and banking card payments are not to be accepted unless the physical card is presented and all required processes are followed for processing these.
  8. Employees caught stealing with irrefutable evidence face immediate dismissal to the extent permitted by labour laws.
  9. Employees are not permitted to remove inventory, including unsold, topped, magazines, unsold cards or damaged stock from the store without permission.
  10. Employees are not permitted to provide a refund to a customer without appropriate management permission.
  11. Employees are not permitted to complete sales to themselves, family members or friends.
  12. Every dollar stolen from the business by customers and or employees can cost us up to four dollars to recover. This is why vigilance on theft is mission critical for our retail store.



Category: Ethics · Management tip · Newsagency management · theft

54 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Factory Worker // May 19, 2018 at 1:39 PM

    Dear Staff,

    we don’t trust you.

    The Management


  • 2 Mark Fletcher // May 19, 2018 at 1:45 PM

    A dumb response from you ‘factory’. Try for something more intelligent.


  • 3 Factory Worker // May 19, 2018 at 3:44 PM

    Mark it was an attempt to succinctly demonstrate the trust conundrum faced by every business and it’s employees.

    For example in a hospital the administration does not have staff sign a contract agreeing not to kill patients and then display this commitment in the staff room.

    Nor do childcare workers have to agree not to burn the children with cigarette butts.

    They don’t do this, because societal expectations are that you don’t break the law.

    Certainly deal with employee criminal behaviour, but don’t label every employee a criminal.


  • 4 Jim // May 19, 2018 at 4:05 PM

    There is a reason why you work in a factory.


  • 5 Factory Worker // May 19, 2018 at 4:38 PM

    And there is a reason you have a lawn mowing round.


  • 6 Mark Fletcher // May 19, 2018 at 4:47 PM

    ‘factory’ your attempt failed. Hospitals have signs about security of medications. Child care centres have rules posted for their staff.

    My post is written based on decades of experience helping newsagents and other retailers in the area, working with police and prosecutors too. The Theft Policy is regarded as best practice.

    This Theft Policy is not the only communication in the business, not the only by which piece employees would judge a business or business owners. Just as any advice I provide newsagents here should not be considered in isolation. I have an expectation that people read the advice and apply what they want from it as part of an overall business management plan. But you would know that.


  • 7 Jason // May 20, 2018 at 3:22 PM

    “Credit and banking card payments are not to be accepted unless the physical card is presented and all required processes are followed for processing these”

    So you don’t accept Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay or any kind of wearable payment?

    Why not just put a sign up telling customers to not bother entering the store?


  • 8 Mark Fletcher // May 20, 2018 at 3:42 PM

    Jason you have inferred things that I have not written in this post. #1: I have suggested this policy. I have not said that I use this. #2: At point 7 I refer to the use of cards. If a business takes other payment methods, they can allow for this in the version of the policy they use.

    It seems you want a reason to criticise the post, which is your right. However, be factual rather than making stuff up.


  • 9 Steve // May 20, 2018 at 5:13 PM

    Mark you explicitly instruct anyone reading this post to make all team members read and sign it, without qualification, and when someone points out an issue with it what do you do?

    You step away from it implying it isn’t the theft policy you use in your business and attack Jason as inferring things that are not in the post when in fact its not inferred its in black and white.

    Its a pattern thats becoming more and more common on here.


  • 10 Mark Fletcher // May 20, 2018 at 5:30 PM

    Steve, I make no such instruction whatsoever. The line to which you refer is part of the policy. It is not an instruction from me to readers here. It is there for readers to consider as part of their overall consideration of the suggested policy.

    Further, I have not said I do not use this policy in my business. What I said in my comment is that I have not said I use this.

    I don’t know why you and Jason are intent on reading what has not beet written here.

    Once again, you distract from the core message. This is a good and proven theft policy for any business to add to its suite of policies. It will help reduce theft, in my opinion.


  • 11 Andrew T // May 20, 2018 at 6:14 PM

    I’ve always said of this site, Mark is a talented and experienced operator but talk about thinned skinned. Humility is not one of his stronger points and he rarely IF EVER admits that he may be wrong on occasion.


  • 12 Factory Worker // May 20, 2018 at 6:18 PM

    Mark, as the policy published is regarded as best practice; do you use it in your stores? Including point 7?


  • 13 Mark Fletcher // May 20, 2018 at 7:16 PM

    Andrew, you have never said in your comments Mark is a talented and experienced operator . However, that does not matter. On this thread, what people have said I have said in the post I have not said. Facts matter.


  • 14 Mark Fletcher // May 20, 2018 at 7:20 PM

    Not as published ‘factory’. I have an earlier version.

    I first wrote a theft policy fifteen years ago, and have refined it since. What I have published here is the latest version.

    Point 7 is not problematic in my view. Of course, if one took payments in other forms an additional point would be required.


  • 15 Steve // May 20, 2018 at 7:51 PM

    ”Steve, I make no such instruction whatsoever. The line to which you refer is part of the policy.”

    The very first sentence of your post:

    ”Issue this Theft Policy in your business, have all team members sign it and place it is a place where team members can see it every day.”

    Nothing inferred, just plain English.


  • 16 Mark Fletcher // May 20, 2018 at 7:57 PM

    Steve, I never write here expecting everyone reading it to do exactly as I say. I understand about free will. I should have stared the post saying: If you intend to act on this advice …

    This policy is a good policy. I say that based on the considerable time I spend helping newsagents deal with employee theft situations.


  • 17 Graeme Day // May 20, 2018 at 8:46 PM

    I am not presenting any argument here re this post as I see it as a list of possible topics regarding theft and the general awareness one should have toward it. I would print the list out pass it on to all the staff to read it and ask them to contribute by either adding or crossing out any of the suggestions and give reasons.
    When received I would collate the best of them and along with their selections post them on the staff notice board with the “official” version that is to become store policy.
    In all a lot of Mark’s posts encourage people to think not necessarily to accept every single point
    but getting to point scoring is a tad silly when at best you can cherry pick his suggestions and run with the ones you like.


  • 18 Steve // May 21, 2018 at 2:15 PM

    Graeme, I dont have a problem with with Marks original post its the reaction to Jasons comment #7 that I have a problem with. Call Jasons comment nit picking if you want but its a fair comment, with the rise in app based payment systems to only accept payments when the card is presented is problematic.

    There was a time when Mark would have taken Jasons comment on face value and a useful conversation started on the rise of mobile phone based payments. I know that the new lotterywest mobile phone player card (which means the retailer has to scan the mobile phone) has resulted in at least one retailer dropping and breaking a customers phone.

    Those days are gone, now Mark goes into full defensive mode and fails to even try to understand what is being said and even refuses to understand what he himself has written.

    I’ve followed this blog for a number of years and gotten a lot out of it but Ive grown tired it. There’s a lot of trolls coming on here and Marks attitude encourages them.


  • 19 Mark Fletcher // May 21, 2018 at 3:33 PM

    Not defensive Steve. Jason took point 7 way out of context. In your world I am not supposed to call that out.


  • 20 Steve // May 21, 2018 at 4:25 PM

    Mark the problem isnt that you called Jason out it’s that you falsely accused him of inferring things from your post. He didn’t infer anything he directly quoted point 7 and questioned it because it would rule out employee’s accepting app based payment systems. ” Mark goes into full defensive mode and fails to even try to understand what is being said”

    Then when I posted that you had instructed people who read the post to make their staff sign it, you refused to believe it till I spelt it out to you. “and even refuses to understand what he himself has written”

    Sure call Jason out but give a decent explanation, dont just accuse him of inferring things that aren’t there when in fact he’s right and its what you wrote.

    It may be petty nitpicking on Jasons part but you completely failed to understand both what you wrote and what Jason wrote.


  • 21 Mark Fletcher // May 21, 2018 at 4:32 PM

    Steve, he said: So you don’t accept Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay or any kind of wearable payment?

    Why not just put a sign up telling customers to not bother entering the store?

    I understand my point 7. I refer to the use of cards. If a business takes other payment methods, they can allow for this in the version of the policy they use.

    The inference is there in the comment.

    The sad thing is the comments distract from a good post that many newsagents could benefit from. I say sad as there are regulars here who only comment to distract from what I have written.

    I stand 100% behind the post.


  • 22 Steve // May 21, 2018 at 4:46 PM

    He didn’t infer anything he asked a question. It’s a fair question. Do you accept app based payment methods in light of the Theft Policy you posted?

    It’s that whole understanding what’s been written thing you seem to be having a problem with.


  • 23 Mark Fletcher // May 21, 2018 at 4:49 PM

    Steve while there is a ? at the end of each sentence, they do not read as questions.

    I have no problem with my advice, which is designed to help newsagents mitigate the cost of theft.


  • 24 Jason // May 21, 2018 at 4:54 PM

    So you don’t use this policy, but you’re telling other people to use it? Which is best practice?

    You’re standing 100% behind a post by defending what’s in black and white by making it up as you in the comments. Not great advice…

    Steve gets it, thanks mate.


  • 25 Mark Fletcher // May 21, 2018 at 5:02 PM

    Jason I use a variation on this policy, which I created prior to this current version. Not that that is relevant to the discussion.

    Every comment you have published here has sought to distract from the core message of each post.


  • 26 Jeff // May 21, 2018 at 5:17 PM

    Ignore the trolls. They are not worth the attention.


  • 27 Steve // May 21, 2018 at 6:05 PM

    Jeff, I may be a lot of things but I’m not a troll. I’ve been posting on here for over 5 years and while I do get into arguments with Mark I also agree with him on a lot of what he posts.

    If you know where to look on this blog my full name, business address and phone number are posted by me. I posted it a number of years ago, along with others, when a real troll called myself and others fake accounts controlled by Mark and we set out to prove them wrong.

    That doesn’t sound like the actions of a basement dwelling troll does it?

    I’m disappointed in what this blog has become more than anything else.


  • 28 Colin // May 21, 2018 at 6:15 PM

    Well said Steve. Persons having another opinion are not welcome.


  • 29 Mark Fletcher // May 21, 2018 at 6:23 PM

    Steve, I control no fake accounts.

    Colin, if persons with another opinions were not welcome here, comments would be blocked and / or moderated. They are not. Anyone can post on anything.

    Some want the right to say anything but they do not want me to disagree with them.


  • 30 Allan Wickham // May 21, 2018 at 6:39 PM

    Geez, am I missing something here? I thought Marks post was about reducing theft in our businesses. Just a few tips to help just do that. Take some on board, maybe not all of them but at least a topic to get us thinking about further ways and ideas to achieve a reduction in theft. Instead it turns to shit. I really don’t know what else Mr Fletcher can do, maybe just stop writing the blog for ALL Newsagents to share and just keep his ideas to us newsXpress members.


  • 31 Steve // May 21, 2018 at 6:46 PM

    Mark, I know you control no fake accounts, as I stated someone else (Gina R if I remember rightly) accused you of controlling accounts, including mine, and myself and others posted our details to prove them wrong.

    You not understating or comprehending what is written is becoming worrying. Seriously I’m not saying this to have a go, its become more and more obvious of late.


  • 32 Mark Fletcher // May 21, 2018 at 7:04 PM

    Comprehension Steve? This sentence from you: I posted it a number of years ago, along with others, when a real troll called myself and others fake accounts controlled by Mark and we set out to prove them wrong. The part I bolded reflected the part of the sentence that caused me to make the above comment.


  • 33 Steve // May 21, 2018 at 8:10 PM

    I know you dont have fake accounts, my post is quite easy to understand. Jeff accuses me of being a troll, I explain that I’m not much of troll if I’m willing to post my details on here to prove there aren’t fake accounts.

    What do you do? You see the phrase ”fake account” and feel the need to tell me there’s no fake accounts. I know that, there’s nothing in my post to make you think I don’t know it.

    Did you not fully understand and comprehend what I wrote?

    I’m sorry Mark you do it repeatedly, whether it’s on purpose or not I don’t know, but it’s getting worse.


  • 34 Mark Fletcher // May 21, 2018 at 8:36 PM

    Steve, Jeff’s comment does not name anyone.

    What I see in your comment is: fake accounts controlled by Mark. That’s what you wrote, which caused me to say what I said. My response would not have been necessary had you not included that specific text.

    I remain frustrated that good advice here about mitigating theft has been hijacked.


  • 35 Sunny // May 21, 2018 at 8:53 PM

    My understanding is
    I posted it a number of years ago, along with others, when a real troll called myself and others, as fake accounts controlled by Mark. And we set out to prove him (the real troll) wrong.

    Let’s end this discussion


  • 36 Graeme Day // May 21, 2018 at 9:07 PM

    Post 30 Allan.
    You have it right. I said it earlier in post 17. Take the post Mark puts, use the good of that post to suit you, so what’s the problem? The other is just personal point scoring.
    Waste of time and futile. Move on you people your just causing unnecessary angst about nothing.


  • 37 Peter B // May 22, 2018 at 9:57 AM

    Graeme Day @17 you would have your staff make the rules?

    Might as well tell them to take the lot and leave the door open!


  • 38 Graeme Day // May 22, 2018 at 10:04 AM

    Peter B
    Please read the post. I would have their input and then put the final decision (“the official version”) from my management to them. Full stop.

    Management has the final say. Never let go of that, however team playing is very important one can’t operate multiple stores without it. If we think small we will be small.


  • 39 Peter B // May 22, 2018 at 12:00 PM

    “Management”, might have to get me some of that.


  • 40 Jason // May 22, 2018 at 12:05 PM

    Lordy, what a circus.


  • 41 Andrew T // May 22, 2018 at 5:02 PM

    I love a good hissy fit. Alan Wickham do you ever have the courage to challenge Fletcher’s comments or are you just another flunky.


  • 42 Ken Wilson // May 22, 2018 at 7:50 PM

    Haven’t laughed so much in years! Is there a reality TV series in the making here?
    Newsagency wars!


  • 43 Factory Worker // May 22, 2018 at 8:17 PM

    Yeah Survivor….Outwit. Outplay. Outlast.

    But seriously as I said at the start…. if you think having a criminal initial some piece of paper will stop them being a criminal then you are naïve.


  • 44 Graeme Day // May 22, 2018 at 8:55 PM

    39. Peter B
    You already have that skill all you have to do is implement it.


  • 45 Mark Fletcher // May 22, 2018 at 9:21 PM

    The thing is, ‘factory’, an intending criminal would not, and that is the point. I have seen people drop out of employment contention when told there will be a background check or that part of sign on is agreement to something like what is in this theft policy.

    As I have noted, I have plenty of experience helping retailers deal with theft situations as well as working with police and prosecutors.

    It is easy to denigrate the advice of others, hard to create and publish advice of your own.


  • 46 Cam // May 22, 2018 at 9:28 PM

    Andrew T do you ever have anything of substance to say? Why are you such a hater? It is kids stuff. And Ken Wilson the only TV show I want to see is yours how I lost two million dollars of other peoples money running newsagents into the ground.


  • 47 allan wickham // May 23, 2018 at 10:55 AM

    Andrew T, No, I`ve never had the need to challenge Marks posts, nor have I ever had the urge to send an e-mail to a magazine editor just because I didnt like an article I`d read, I`ve never phoned a TV station to complain about a TV show, I just simply watch or read something else. If I did feel the need to challenge Mark I would do him the courtesy of a phone call or an e-mail. We are all free to choose what we read or watch and if we dont like something we can choose to do something else instead. Attacking people because you dont agree with what they write or say is pretty ordinary in my opinion. Does Mark get attacked because he writes a blog or is it simply because some dont like him? Nobody has ever said that you have to like people but respect should be given to all who contribute.

    As far as this blog goes I have learnt so much from it that I have put into practice in my business, I get more value than any other medium or association has ever offered. And for the record AmdrewT, I class Mark Fletcher as an associate and as a friend, if that makes me a “flunky” then so be it.


  • 48 Ken Wilson // May 23, 2018 at 8:51 PM

    Cam, you need to get your facts straight. It was 4 million, the first $1.5million was to the CBA, creditors were $500K and the last 2 million was mine. Don’t make stupid comments like “running newsagents into the ground”. It dismisses all the hard work in trying to keep a business afloat. No one sends a business broke by choice, in fact most people send a whole lot of good money after bad to try and ride out the storm. Being in small business is the hardest thing in your life you will do, thats why 90% fail.


  • 49 Graeme Day // May 23, 2018 at 9:28 PM

    You are damned right about that. However others need support and don’t have the same circumstances that caused your probems.
    It would help with your experience to help them
    Sharing rather than condemning is so much important especially when you have so much experience.
    You have a lot to offer please don’ be bitter others need to learn from your experience.


  • 50 Mark Fletcher // May 23, 2018 at 9:34 PM

    Ken where is the evidence supporting your claim that 90% of small businesses fail. I have researched this and cannot find anything supporting that percentage or anything close to it.

    In my work with newsagents and small businesses generally, the main difference between failure and not failing is the management skill of those running the business. The earlier people realise that what happens is more up to them the better.


  • 51 Lance // May 23, 2018 at 10:00 PM

    Ken #48

    “thats why 90% fail.”

    Do you have two hands ?


  • 52 Colin // May 24, 2018 at 1:26 AM

    90% quoted by Forbes, 95% quoted by Huffington post. Both may be an exaggeration but what is true is that an astonishing % fail to successfully transition. They whither a die.


  • 53 Mark Fletcher // May 24, 2018 at 6:43 AM

    Colin, HuffPost in 2015 published a report that included: According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, more than 60 percent of small businesses cease operating within the first three years of starting.

    I cannot find any data supporting a claim that 90% of small businesses fail.

    The most recent data published resulting from professional research is from Dun and Bradstreet in 2016. It, too, does not include a 90% result:

    I get that owning a small business is tough. I have been a small business owner all my life without any family backing. I’ve experienced tough challenges and success. However, every day I know this is the path I have chosen. I have lived each day knowing it is on me.


  • 54 Ken Wilson // May 24, 2018 at 8:36 AM

    This article might clarify it a little

    Not sure wether the numbers are absolutely correct, but here is a reasonable overview:

    “History repeats itself”
    Roughly 20% of new businesses survive past their first year of operation. (Down to 20% survival)

    However, around half of all businesses no longer exist after five years. (Now down to 10% survival)

    Only one-third make it past their 10th anniversary. (Now down to 3%?)

    I take full responsibility of my failure, I don’t blame anyone. One of my stores was in the same shopping centre as this person who also lost the lot… being in small business will be the hardest thing anyone will ever do!…/banking/…pie-face…/af0204805a1078455a647555259d5be9


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