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May 01, 2007

How to Steal in Broad Daylight from a Coffee Shop

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 5/01/2007 12:26:00 AM
Ironically, as I was having my morning coffee and reading the Journal article about "Inside Jobs: Employee Theft", I observed an "Inside Job" at my local coffee shop - live and in broad daylight - which I will call "Wanda's Coffee" rather than Starbucks Corporation (Nasdaq SBUX) because really, it wasn't Starbucks - wink wink. I was paying for my coffee when I watched poor old Wanda's Coffee getting robbed blind by the barista.

If you've read this far, you must be wondering how to perpetrate an inside job and committ a mass heist. Either you are a young aspiring thief or a superhero crime fight. You are wondering: How do you steal in broad daylight without getting caught? I'm sorry to disappoint you, but what I'm about to offer you is merely looting on a micro scale! The secret to a mass heist? Stop nagging me.

Fine. Fine. Fine. I will reveal the secret to the world for the first time, but I disclaim any responsibility from any actions taken from my advice and recommendations, just like those lousy Wall Street analysts.

How to Perpetrate an Inside Job:
What I learned from going to Wanda's Coffee was in order to perpetrate an inside job, you have to handle the cash.

Step 1. Get a job as the cash till operator at a Wanda's.

Step 2. Get the customer to pay cash. The key to an inside job is when the customer's paying cash. My barista had charged me $3.00 for a coffee and I had paid $5 in cash.

Step 3. Ring up a round number that is more than what the customer paid in cash. The barista rang me up for $10 (when in fact I had paid $5) and paid me back $2.00 change. That $2.00 was the correct change for me, but it was not the correct change for poor Wanda's!

Step 4. Pocket the difference between the change Wanda's thought it paid and what you actually paid. Net ill gotten gain: $5 - the difference between the $7.00 in change that was recorded by the cash register and the $2.00 that was paid.

Congratulations, you just doubled your minimum wage. Now, repeat Steps 1-4 on the hour.

Now that's not grand larceny, but it shows you how these issues of shrinkage are committed on a micro scale every day. If it happened Wanda's, it probably happened to alot of Wanda's out there!

Why is this important? Because as an entrepreneurs, managers, and investors, you need to know not only how to delegate responsibility and to trust employees, but also how much responsibility to delegate and how much trust to grant them. Unfortunately, poor old Wanda's suffered from lack of judgment on both counts - delegating too much responsibility without checks and controls and granting employees so much trust as to enable them to take advantage of their authority and plotting "inside jobs."

Let poor Wanda's be a lesson to every entrepreneur. If you don't believe me, read this article about "Inside Jobs" which is about employee theft and dishonesty and read about the hero of the story (or anti-hero) is Diann Cattani who stole $500,000 from her employer.

Diann is the face of small-business fraud. Ms. Cattani spent 15 months in a federal prison in Florida from 2002 to 2004 for stealing on the job. A trusted employee at a small business owned by a husband and wife, she spent $500,000 of company money on personal items over four years, before turning herself in to her boss. Now, she speaks around the country in a fraud-prevention program called "Taking the Harder Right" -- a series of seminars conducted by Oliver G. Halle & Associates Inc., an Atlanta-based firm that specializes in corporate ethics and antifraud training.
Now that you know what's an inside job, go out and stop it.

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Blogger Steven said...

That isn't how it works. When you pay for a $3 cup of coffee with a $5, the register only adds $3 to the total. Say if the till was at $100, if the barista rings up $3 then the till count would then be at $103. No matter with what the coffee is paid for. If it was rang up as a 10 instead of 5 it is still going to expect a net gain of $3, if the barista is stealing the $5 it will show up as a loss in the till count. That is a pretty stupid barista.

7:38 AM  
Blogger Pat said...

This is an idiotic blog and does not work. People, do not try this, you will get caught. If "Wanda's" had the least bit of intelligence, the barista would not input the amount due on the register, rather he/she would merely push a button representing the customer's drink which would display the amount due. Everything is recorded on a receipt inside the register so that the barista CAN'T steal. At the end of the day if you are short what the register says you should have, you are in trouble - easy as that.

6:58 AM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Those weren't very friendly comments, but I think they are basically right. Maybe you left something out?

If you want to steal money as a barista, you serve the coffee without ever ringing it up. You leave the register open. A $2 cup of coffee is $2 for the barista, zero for the store.

I believe this is why things rarely add up to an even number. This forces the cashier to make change, which forces them to ring up the transaction.

12:13 PM  
Blogger admin said...











3:24 PM  
Blogger admin said...


1:08 PM  
Blogger Atom said...

Yeah, looks like a few other people beat me to commenting about how cash register counts work. If the employer doesn't count the cash till every night based on receipts, then they're stupid.

Also, "Wanda's" pays a considerable bit more than minimum wage compared to other low-wage fast food or coffee places.

3:54 AM  
Blogger admin said...




2:48 AM  
Blogger admin said...


1:01 PM  
Blogger Funny said...

The poster overlooked one simple control ... the sales on the register are reconciled to the cash drawer on a regular basis and there will obviously be a $5.00 difference. The barrista is busted.

7:10 AM  
Blogger kmd said...

This type of theft has been going on for decades at retail and especially fast food restaurants with drive thru windows. It is called 'skimming the house'. The way it was described in this post does not seem to add up, but if you were to do the crime 'right' at a coffee shop you could simply ring up a regular low priced 'black coffee' (say for $2.00) and then charge the customer the correct price and make correct change for the high priced coffee at say $5.00 that they just ordered. The customer would not expect a thing, unless they saw the register readout (turn the display away from the customer). They get the correct order, their correct change and pay the correct price.

It is much easier in a drive thru. Have you ever noticed newer drive thru's having LED Total $ displays now? The purpose is to stop the practice of skimming the customer (more on skimming the customer below). Next have the barista's make the regular high priced coffee drink that was ordered. The company would be hard pressd to track the extra ingredients used over and above the 'black coffee' recorded on the register. If the crime is consistent, it would be taken as normal 'waste'. Then at the end of the shift, the most important step is to keep a total throughout the day in your head from all the skims and remove that much money from the register before the manager counts the cash at the end of the shift. This is another reason why an employee is 'written up' for having both too much and too little money in the cash drawer. This is also the reason that sometimes the manager will pull a drawer and give the employee a new one during the middle of a shift before the employee can remove the $ skimmed.

Customer Skimming
One other method at fast food restaurant drive-thrus is to only skim when a 'large family' comes through at a busy time, say lunch wtih a $15.00 or larger order. Simply add on an extra dollar to the customer's total and they probably will never realize wether the real cost was $15.43 or $16.43. Especially, with 3 screaming kids in the back of the minivan wanting their Happy Meals. In the first example you are essentially stealing cash from the rstaurant and in the second example you are stealing from the customer. In each example though you still have to keep a running total in your head and make sure to remove the money by the end of the shift.

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