Workplaces See Rise in Crime as Economy Tanks

December 15, 2008 ( - The current economic downturn has led to an upturn in workplace theft - especially in large organizations - according to a recent Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) study.

More than one-quarter (27%) of respondents in large companies – those with 10,000 or more employees – said crime in the workplace has risen during the current economic crisis, and 15% of all respondents, regardless of company size, reported the same, according to a press release. Of those companies that feel today’s economic situation has led to an increase in theft, 24% of all respondents and 31% of companies with 10,000 or more workers said they have noticed an increase in the theft of company-owned items such as office supplies, products they produce, electronic equipment, and food items since the economic downturn.

Employee-related monetary theft (such as the padding of expense reports, the disappearance of cash, and other financially related crimes was reported as increasing during the downturn by 18% of overall respondents and 22% of large companies, the announcement said. More subtle “time theft” issues, such as employees using company property for personal use and Web surfing of non-company-related Web sites, was cited as being a growing problem in the down economy by 24% of all companies and 13% of large organizations.

A quarter of all respondents and 30% of large companies also reported a rise in white-collar crimes committed by outsiders. In addition, 28% of all companies and 32% of large organizations reported an increase in physical external criminal activity (such as job-site robberies and break-ins) since the economic decline began.

To address criminal activities, 28% of all companies and 38% of large organizations are using increased communication with employees regarding the issue. Twenty percent are conducting additional audits (25% in large companies), and 19% of companies overall are paying more attention to background checks prior to the hiring of new employees.

The Workplace Theft Pulse survey was conducted by i4cp, in conjunction with, in November 2008, and the total number of respondents was 392.