Getting Away With It

Finally, closing time had come, and Bob, a 47-year-old salesman that had been with the dealership for six years, had been there right to the end of the day. The manager said, “Why don’t you take off now. It’ll take me about 10 minutes to finish here and I’ll lock up. No need to wait around.” So Bob thanked him, picked up his jacket and headed out the door.

On his way to his car he spotted a demo plate that had been left on a car at the edge of the lot. Bob hesitated. “That plate could be worth some money,” he thought. He had heard that some people were willing to pay big bucks for valid demo plates. No one knew the plate was there, the manager was busy inside, so Bob did something he had never done before. He took the plate, slipped it under his jacket, and hurried to his car. He drove home through a different part of town and stopped to ask if anyone in that area was interested in a demo plate. The deal took only a couple of minutes and Bob was on his way with $200.00 cash in his pocket—his life now headed in a new and ominous direction. Bob had just joined the growing number of loyal employees who steal from their employers, and by doing so, was placing the very existence of the dealership at risk.

Do you think this is a fictitious story? The truth is, it is not as uncommon as you might like to believe. Although Bob did steal a demo plate, it was made easy for him because the dealership where he worked had no system in place to control them. With no control system to help managers manage demo plates, the theft or loss of a demo plate could take days or weeks to detect. By then it would be almost impossible to link its disappearance to any specific date or person.

Employee theft is a much bigger problem than most dealers are willing to admit, amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, per dealership.

There appear to be two common conditions that have to exist for employee dishonesty to thrive. One is opportunity; the other is the probability of getting away with the act. No thief will steal if they know they’ll be caught. Few will attempt to steal if the opportunity to do so does not exist. It seems to make little difference whether you are talking about the theft of pens from the office or thousands of dollars from investors. Dealers can help keep their employees honest by installing the proper systems and equipment to control the various risks that exist in their dealerships.

If employers can remove either the opportunity to steal or the ability to get away with it, the likelihood of an employee committing a dishonest act is sharply reduced. Demo plate abuse, a type of theft, occurs more frequently than most dealers think and is more easily stopped than commonly believed. A good demo plate control system provides both access and accountability. Help take a bite out of crime in your dealership. Invest in one today.

Bernard Boule, president of M-Tech has designed and developed products for the auto retail industry for 20 years. He holds numerous patents, trademarks, and copyrights. He can be contacted at 800-642-4522 or at

Bernard Boule


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