In the mid 1970s I opened a shop some distance from our other stores and soon after had a phone call from a customer of the new branch. He informed me he suspected we were being robbed by a member of our staff and explained the reason for his suspicions. He added he had no wish to get involved and insisted he remain anonymous. I considered what he had said and concluded he was probably right. For some days I pondered over who the thief could be out of the shops nine staff, all of whom I had interviewed and eventually employed. I had trained them, grown to like them, and now one of them was stealing from me. Sadly, in those bygone days, shop tills were far less sophisticated and easier to steal from, we called it under ringing, and the thief achieved it in the following way. Imagine the salesperson made a forty four pound sale but rang up just thirty four pounds, ten pounds more would be in the cash draw than the till registered. All the thief had to do to obtain an extra tenner was to secrete the money when the opportunity arose. My problem was how to put a stop to it and I concluded the only avenue open to me was to frighten the culprit, I would have to bluff them.
I called a surprise meeting of all the nine staff and informed them we had for some weeks been using an agency specialising in staff pilferage. I explained, making it up as I spoke, that the agency were making test sales in all our stores and when the till receipts failed to correspond with the test sale information, it was almost a certainty that staff pilferage was occurring. I then went on to explain company policy on dealing with dishonest staff, again making it up as I spoke. I told them how the culprit would be arrested and taken home in a police car and the prosecution would be reported in all the local papers. In short, I put the fear of god in them. I then handed each of them an envelope with my home address on it, saying if the culprit were to send me an immediate letter of apology using the envelope provided, promising in their own words they had learned their lesson, I would let the matter rest.
Three days later I had my letter of apology, two days after that six more arrived, a total of seven thieves out of a staff of nine!