Fast-food employees admit stealing cash, property

May 14, 1989
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PARK RIDGE, Ill. -- A 'startling' 62 percent of the employees of two national fast-food organizations admitted stealing cash or property from their employers, a London House, Inc. study said Sunday.

Fifty-two percent said the average employee stole $10 to $400 per week, and 7 percent said they took $10 to $100 a week, but London House said the amount actually stolen 'probably falls between these extremes.'

The study did not compare the theft rate to other industries.

'A startling 62 percent of the respondents admitted to some type of cash or property theft, such as taking supplies or merchandise or eating food without paying for it,' said Dr. Karen Slora, a research psychologist for the Park Ridge-based organization. 'And 53 percent admitted to some type of theft support, such as watching others steal or not reporting theft.'

The study randomly selected one employee from each of 872 individual fast-food units belonging to two unnamed fast-food organizations. Results were based on 341 confidential surveys filled out and mailed to London House, which develops and implements psychological testing and evaluation systems for business and industry.

Other findings of the study included:

-84 percent admitted damaging property while 'horsing around,' purposely wasting company materials or performing work slowly, consuming drugs or alcohol on the job and coming to work hungover from drugs or alcohol.

-78 percent said they stole company time by coming to work late, leaving early or calling in ill when they really were well.

-78 percent said they argued with customers, co-workers and supervisors.

The 'typical' thief within the two companies worked evening or night shifts, the report said.

'Managerial-level employees were associated with taking supplies for personal use, falsifying company documents, using discounts for friends and leaving work early. Assistant managers were assocatied with leaving work early. Crew members were associated with eating food without paying for it, unexcused absences and faking illness,' the report said.

Full-time employees more often took supplies for personal use, left work early and argued with others. Part-time workers were associated with helping others take property, unexcused absences and feigning illness.

'Employees who felt their employer had treated them unfairly were more likely to make theft admissions,' said Slora.

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