Workplace Crime Focus of New Campaign to Fight Violence, Theft

By: Victoria Langley
By: Victoria Langley

Violence on the job kills hundreds of people every year around the country, and workplace crime takes a heavy financial toll, too.

Florida businesses lose nearly $30 billion a year to white-collar and other crimes. A new statewide coalition is trying to educate employers and workers on ways to fight back.

GTO Manufacturing President Joe Kelley has made office security a priority. Workers undergo background checks. He audits his books four times a year. And a high-tech video and audio surveillance system keeps watch for anyone who might try to help themselves to inventory, from either inside or outside the company.

Kelley says security has to be tops on the list. “The cost to a business can be devastating. It’s also something that would be very difficult to track unless you had a sophisticated security system.”

It’s something too many businesses learn the hard way. Employee theft accounts for nearly half of the $27 billion lost every year in Florida to workplace crime.

The Florida Attorney General’s Office teamed up with prosecutors and other crime prevention advocates to bring attention to the crisis through the new “Safe at Work Coalition.” They’re hoping outreach efforts and education will make more businesses take security seriously.

Workplace crime isn’t just about lost money. Violence in the workplace killed 639 people nationwide in 2001.

Part of the solution is limiting access. At GTO, no one, including a NewsChannel Seven reporter, gets in without a security badge.

GTO Sales Director Kevin Peaden says he also appreciates the locked facility and extra lighting. “It’s nice to know and feel secure that you’re not having to worry about that and can concentrate on your work.”

Cutting losses in half would save enough money for employers to offer health insurance to half a million more workers.

The 2004 Florida Workplace Crime Report found employers spend more on crime costs than they do to own and rent commercial space.

For tips on office security and how to determine your business’s risk, log onto www.safeatworkfl.org.


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