How to Prevent Theft in a Restaurant

Eateries encounter thieves that range from armed burglars to customers who nonchalantly walk away with TV remotes in their pockets. Unfortunately, these crimes cost the industry billions of dollars every year. If you manage or own a restaurant, you can take several effective steps to reduce theft.


Security Equipment

Think about mounting surveillance cameras on interior and exterior walls. Monitor the doors, cash register, parking lot, loading dock, and bar. Be sure to thoroughly maintain this equipment and test it periodically. Put up signs that read “24-hour surveillance.”

Install a security alarm. A traditional automatic unit may prevent break-ins from happening late at night. Your business could also benefit from a silent alarm with a hidden trigger. Train staff members to use this system properly during a holdup.


Avoiding Robbery

Criminals frequently target eateries when employees open or close these establishments. To discourage armed robberies, ensure that two or more staff members are always present. Lock all doors as the closing process begins, and don’t switch off too many lights.

Some criminals target an eatery’s rear entrance or loading dock because it’s hidden from view. To maximize security, install bright outdoor lights and a peephole. Always keep this entrance locked if employees aren’t present. When possible, use the front door at night.


Protecting Cash

To discourage holdups and embezzlement, install a drop safe near the cash register. Put up signs indicating that your restaurant limits available money, restricts staff access, and doesn’t allow customers to pay with bills exceeding $50 in value.


Employee Theft

Sadly, numerous restaurant workers steal cash, alcoholic beverages, food or other items. Your eatery could lose considerable amounts of money and experience shortages that prevent you from serving customers. Fortunately, corrupt individuals often forgo theft when employers monitor them carefully.

Sophisticated inventory tracking, time clock and point-of-sale systems may stop this type of larceny from going unnoticed. You can also lock any liquor cabinets. Some restaurants secure their walk-in freezers as well, but it’s crucial to ensure that no one gets trapped inside.

Managers may commit theft by voiding transactions and pocketing the money. It’s important to watch for excessive voids; pay attention to the hours when they occur. This frequently happens as a shift ends and fellow employees go elsewhere.

Try to avoid theft by carefully screening all job applicants. A criminal background check could reveal that a potential employee has a history of embezzlement. Drug tests can warn you about individuals who might steal cash in an effort to buy addictive substances.

If staff members value their jobs, they’ll think twice before pocketing money or kitchen supplies. You can increase employee satisfaction by paying desirable wages and providing discounts or other benefits. Your staff ought to receive sufficient breaks as well.


Crooked Customers

Although they probably won’t steal as much as a deceitful bartender or armed robber, dishonest guests might pocket small valuables and leave without paying. You may prevent this by only providing one non-emergency exit and stationing an employee near the door.

Treat meal theft like any other crime. Write down details about the offender, and try to record a license plate number. Security camera footage might help. Quickly report the information to police; this approach may discourage future violations.

If patrons often fail to settle their bills, consider charging upfront or taking payment for all meals at the cash register. Determine if your business inadvertently promotes this behavior. When a server treats them rudely or takes far too long to present the bill, guests may feel that they have a reason not to pay.

Dishonest employees occasionally make false claims about customer theft after they steal the money paid for a meal. Remember to thoroughly question staff members about each incident, review security camera footage and notice if the same server reports numerous “dine and dash” incidents.


Although it may seem insignificant at first, the loss of small valuables can result in substantial expenses. Consider installing security cables that attach remote controls and refillable pens to surfaces. Large devices and decorations deter theft; they don’t easily fit in pockets.

The bottom line: Your restaurant can prevent many instances of larceny when you closely monitor transactions, install security equipment, and fine-tune certain business practices. It’s also crucial to eliminate any justifications for theft by treating staff members and customers well.