Enjoying what you’re reading? Sign up now.


The Numbers Behind Employee Theft

Article Highlights:

  • 88% of businesses who experience theft don't get their money back.
  • 51% of dealers have experienced theft or know someone who has.

A lot of dealers think “Employee theft won’t happen to me” or, “I trust my employees.” But the numbers around employee theft tell a different story.

There was an article in Automotive News about a dealer who lost nearly $2 million to embezzlement from his controller. How common is that?

According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, 88% of businesses who experience theft or embezzlement don’t get all their money back. They never see that money again. As a matter of fact, 1 in 4 theft cases resulted in losses of $1 million or more. Furthermore, 51 percent of dealers have confirmed they experienced theft or know a dealer who has. What’s more disconcerting is the 49 percent who think there is no embezzlement at their dealership. But how can you know for sure?

When you leave your house in the morning, do you lock the door? Does that mean you don’t live in a safe neighborhood? No. It just means you’re being cautious and reducing the risk that someone will come into your house and rob you. We think of theft as a burglar in a black mask, breaking in from the outside, when more often than not a trusted employee you consider a friend, could be responsible for the biggest losses. With a quick internet search, you can find several stories of theft involving employees dealers trusted. In one, the dealer expressed how devastated he was about the situation, but what bothered him most was the mental and emotional drain knowing he trusted someone who took advantage of him.

You can’t be everywhere all the time. Hiring the “right” people isn’t enough either. There needs to be a better way to check for possible suspicious activity. You may be thinking, “That’s why I pay a CPA.” However, you might be surprised to learn CPAs don’t actively look for embezzlement. They ensure your dealership is using generally accepted accounting procedures. You could hire an auditor if you suspect something is going on but on average, dealership theft takes 18 months to find.  In total, it could be hundreds of thousands – maybe millions – before you find the theft.

To ensure your dealership is reducing your risk of theft, you need a dealership-wide monitoring solution that constantly analyzes system data for unethical business activities. This system should monitor your day-to-day operations and alert you when suspicious activity has been found.

How much will it take before you lock your dealership’s doors?


Share this Article

Vice President, Product Management, Reynolds and Reynolds

Scott Worthington is vice president of product management at Reynolds and Reynolds. With more than 30 years of automotive industry experience and a keen eye for challenges facing automotive retailers, Scott leads the team responsible for product strategy for the company’s dealership management system platforms and its supporting solutions.

Related Articles:

old black and white image of a man driving a car

The Evolution of Cars and Consumer Expectations

Have you ever thought about how far the automotive industry has come since the creation of the first car? From three-wheeled cars to punch-inducing Volkswagen Beetles

Reviewing data

4 Things Every Dealership Can Do to Prepare for Future Success

Right now, your dealership is successful and running smoothly. That’s a great first step towards ensuring future success, but there’s always more work to do.

Do's and Don'ts of AI

Do’s and Don’ts of Automation

AI is the next level of automation. Let's go back to the basics and think about some of the do’s and don’ts of automation.

Dark storm clouds and lightning over an empty field

Is your dealership prepared for storm season?

Storm season brings expected and unexpected disasters. Dealerships need to have a plan in place to help them recover if Mother Nature attacks. According to