Businesses hire undercovers to catch employee thieves

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ATLANTA —

Spies are infiltrating local businesses to catch employees stealing.
   
The spies are undercover employees hired by businesses to stop an estimated $40 billion dollars in losses every year. On Thursday, Channel 2’s John Bachman got a rare chance to talk to one of those spies about life undercover.

"It's estimated that 40 percent of all business failures are attributed in some way to employee theft," said Greg Norred of Norred & Associates Inc.

Cameras catch offenders in some cases, but undercover employees can determine who's involved to build a stronger case to prosecute.

"Most businesses successful with undercover operations are warehousing, manufacturing and retail," Norred said.

He cited examples of loaders overloading trucks and drivers selling extra on the street.

"Atlanta is a huge market for undercover investigations," he said. “There's a lot of crime here, and we have a lot of business here, and we've got a lot of distribution centers."

There are eight undercover operations currently under way.

"Maintaining your cover is biggest challenge," the undercover employee told Bachman.

The employee asked not to be named.

"Employees are taking out bags of merchandise, literally bags of merchandise. You're looking at how brazen it is," he said. "Someone was brazen enough to take two pieces of earthmoving equipment and you're like, ‘wow.’"

Norred said retailers lose more from their own employees than from shoplifters.