Theft is not a new problem for warehouse operations. Its negative implications not only place you, your staff, and your expensive goods in danger, but they also expose security loopholes that endanger the reputation of your warehouse.

Click Here: Improve Your Warehouse Inventory Management With This Advanced and Affordable WMS

This article can act as your guide on how to prevent theft in your warehouse. We will discuss the reasons for theft, the indicators that it is happening, and some practices to combat it.

    Get Warehouse
    Efficiency Strategies.

    Stay up to date with our latest content twice a month.

    Reasons for Theft in the Warehouse

    Warehouse theft is a serious matter as it comes not only from external sources (such as burglars) but also from internal sources (staff), which is more common. There are many reasons for theft, but we have highlighted some of the most common factors behind internal and external theft.

    External Warehouse Theft

    For external theft, here are the core factors:

    • The international black market.
    • Lack of video surveillance and anti-theft devices in the warehouse.
    • The involvement of insiders makes it much easier for outsiders to commit theft.

    “According to a warehouse theft statistic by Loss Prevention Magazine, cargo theft is a $15-$30 billion problem each year in the United States.”


    Internal Warehouse Theft

    The real challenge lies in finding the reasons behind employee theft, including the following:

    1. Financial Stress

    This is one of the most common reasons for internal warehouse theft. Other reasons, such as employees’ due bills, family demands, poor money management, and dissatisfaction with the salary, can also lead to theft.

    2. Lack of Supervision

    When employees are left unsupervised, they can take advantage and commit an act of theft without being noticed.

    3. Self-Justification

    This happens when an employee is filled with antipathy for their company and self-justifies the act of theft. Antipathy can stem from a lack of respect, appreciation, reward, and opportunity.

    4. Disorganization

    A disorganized warehouse and lack of warehouse cleaning are easy targets for employees to execute theft as it makes it easier for them to hide their activities.

    A disorganized warehouse.

    How to Know if Theft is Happening

    Awareness is the key to knowing if theft is happening or is about to happen. If you are not aware of what’s happening around your warehouse, it can suffer big losses every day. Some advice given below may be a valuable wake-up call for you to prevent theft.

    • Discovering that the stock levels of inventory are not matching the sales records.
    • Consistent dip in productivity during a time period or a day when specific people are working.
    • Insights from the whistleblowers in the workplace.
    • Vital records such as invoices going missing.

    Even if you catch any of these indicators, it is still daunting to prove a staff member guilty of theft, as you need to have strong evidence against him/her. Hence, it is better to implement warehouse theft prevention measures to avoid such things.

    Warehouse Efficiency Ebook

    Warehouse Theft Prevention Measures

    Over the years, many methods have been tested and implemented to turn a warehouse into a fortress. The practices below can help you shield your warehouse from the possibility of theft:

    Implement Warehouse Technologies

    Your first step to counter warehouse theft is being aware and having access to data. These warehouse technologies below allow you to find inconsistencies in records and track labor productivity immediately.

    1. Implement a WMS

    A WMS can help you track your stocks in real-time and detect missing items. This increases the amount of awareness you have over your inventory, which can lead to a reduction in theft.

    2. Mobile Technologies & Wearables

    Mobile computers, handheld barcode scanners, and smart printers are all excellent examples of current warehouse technology. These wearable warehouse technologies, when integrated with a WMS, can help you inspect your warehouse by having access to data anywhere in the facility.

    A warehouse manager using technology to manage his warehouse.

    3. Drones

    This technology can help make cycle counting fast and easy. This will remove the reliance on humans to perform cycle counting, which lowers the chance for them to manipulate the numbers. Drones can also ensure your stock count is as up-to-date as possible.

    Managing Human Activity

    Warehouse managers need to be proactive about all activities in the warehouse to prevent theft. Here are some tips for managing both insiders and outsiders.

    1. Review Employee Performances

    Daily or weekly performance analysis will help you in reviewing the productivity level of the employees. Moreover, it will help you identify the underperforming and suspicious ones who could be the reason behind the theft.

    2. Limit Access to Inventory Data

    The task of updating the inventory list or inventory management software should be restricted to only trustworthy employees so that stocks cannot be manipulated in their absence.

    3. Staff Inputs

    Encourage your staff to keep an eye on their fellow staff members, which will keep them honest. Also, you can acknowledge the employees for their contributions in stopping such theft attempts.

    4. Caution in Hiring

    During hiring, you can conduct a rigorous background check on applicants’ criminal records and work ethics in their previous workplace.

    5. Rotation Policy

    Theft can be executed when devious staff members develop alliances. Rotating shifts and areas can help prevent this.

    6. Security Checks

    Security personnel should be posted at all entry/exit points and adjoining areas within a warehouse with the assistance of tools such as security scanners. Moreover, all inbound and outbound trucks should be inspected and not allowed to move without receipts/checking.

    7. Awareness of Policies

    Educating your staff about the company’s zero-tolerance policies and the consequences of breaching them can result in less theft. Additionally, having them sign documents that state they have been informed of all policies can help in ensuring awareness of consequences.

    Improving Warehouse Layout

    A well-thought-out warehouse layout can significantly reduce the possibility of theft. The weakness of the warehouse design is an open invitation for the robbers to penetrate. Given below are a few practices that can help you optimize security defenses:

    1. Fewer Doors

    More doors can open more infiltration opportunities for thieves. If possible, try to use a single door for entry and a single door for exit to limit and control human activity.

    2. CCTV Surveillance

    Installing CCTV cameras ensures full-time surveillance and can discourage theft attempts. It can also provide definite proof during warehouse theft investigations.

    Warehouse CCTV

    3. Separate Receiving and Shipping Docks

    Implementing this policy can reduce the chance for incoming stock to be transferred immediately to an outbound truck.

    4. Restrooms Near Doors

    Among outsider actors, truck drivers pose the highest risk for cargo theft. Restrooms near doors can restrict access to the main premises and lessen the chance of theft.

    5. Separate Parking for Visitors

    A separate parking area far away from operational spaces can limit the chances for outsiders to steal.

    6. Outdoor Security

    Thieves often steal stocks by hiding them in the bushes or waste containers outside the warehouse. Therefore, these things should not be too close to the warehouse doors, windows, and walls.

    7. Well-Lit Facility

    Adequate lighting at every corner is one of the key measures to prevent theft. It not only increases visibility for CCTV cameras, but it also helps employees observe things more clearly.


    Warehouses have always been soft targets for theft. Following the practices mentioned in this article can help you raise your security standards and avoid warehouse theft. They will not only put the brakes on the inefficiencies in your warehouse, but they can also save the loss of revenue and increased legal costs involved when theft occurs.

    Advanced and Affordable WMS

    If you want to learn about warehouse technology and optimizing warehouse processes, follow us on LinkedInYouTube, X, or FacebookIf you have other inquiries or suggestions, please contact us hereWe’ll be happy to hear from you.

    to Top