How Prevalent is Stealing in Small Business

Whether as an aspiring entrepreneur or a long time small business owner, there are always going to be worries on your mind about how your company is performing, and of course, there are always going to be risks of building up your own successful business venture. One thing that is often overlooked, but can be a threat to your business is theft from within. Commonly known as shrinkage in the retail business employee theft and shoplifting is a big problem for small business owners.

In order to find out what the levels of theft are like within work places, Data-Label has carried out a survey of adults aged over 18 asking: “Have you ever stolen something from your place of work?” and a surprising 20% of respondents, nearly 400 out of the 1,986 questioned, admitted that they had done.

Delving further to find out what sort of threats a small business could be facing if they find that their employees are stealing from work, they asked: “What did you steal?” The most common response was stationary, followed by food from both the company and their fellow staff members, and finally toilet roll. The most common reason, cited by the vast majority of respondents (85%), given for why they had stolen from work was that they didn’t think anyone would notice, although 8% stated it was because they believed they deserved more from the company that they received.

But what’s the risk with employees who haven’t resorted yet to theft at work? According to the stats, 83% of those who hadn’t ever stolen say they wouldn’t ever, but worryingly 17% said they would consider it because something small like stationary would be likely to go unnoticed.

Philip Carlyn, Managing Director at Data-Label, stated on the subject: “It is probably not as uncommon as people think; stealing from work, even if it’s something as small as toilet roll or tea bags in an emergency. As we can see from our results there are varying reasons why some people think stealing from work is acceptable. Although the news stories of fraud or embezzlement are not the norm for many employees, theft of goods or products seem to be the most common.

“For some people there is a sense of entitlement, especially if employees feel undervalued or do not believe that they are being paid a fair wage. They also feel like they are not hurting anyone either, especially with some of the smaller thefts admitted. However over time those stealing costs can add up for companies. I wonder if people would reconsider if they knew that company theft of small items and stationary was responsible for a delayed wage increase.”


  1. […] in counting, they will also give your employees a clear message that you are serious about Stealing in Small Business. The surprise checks should be conducted by a different supervisor or manager. This will help […]

  2. […] Theft in the workplace poses a threat bigger than many small business owners think. The research conducted by Data Label reveals that 20 percent of respondents admitted that they have stolen something from their workplace; a disturbing trend, indeed. You can learn more about the results here. […]

  3. […] I read an article on Small Biz Viewpoints that contained a survey conducted by Data-Label. The article itself is about how to stop stealing in the work place but the survey showed that 20% of people asked (nearly 400 out of the 1,986), admitted that they had stolen from work. […]

  4. […] There was actually a pretty interesting study performed by Data-Label. They asked 1,986 people if they have ever stolen anythign from their workplace and over 20% responded yes! You can see more about the study here: […]