By Daniel Hunter

According to the results of a survey of British based employees, it seems that not everyone tows the moral line within the workplace. 27% confess to having stolen from work in the past, with stationery being the most commonly pinched item (79%).

The study, conducted by www.versapak.co.uk, polled 1,452 workers from various professions from around the UK as part of research into workplace security.

The study initially asked the question 'Have you ever stolen from the workplace?' which revealed that more than a quarter, 27%, had done so. The majority of this was attributed to what could be regarded as petty items such as 'stationery', which 79% of these respondents confessed to having pinched. 33% confessed to taking 'petty cash' and 29% admitted to 'stealing items from the workplace kitchen' such as cutlery, plates or utensils. However 28% of these respondents that admitted to stealing from work also said that they had taken things 'over the value of £100'; with 12% claiming to have taken more than ' a £1000 worth' of items owned by their employers.

When asked the question 'Would you steal from the workplace if the chance arose?' as opposed to 'have you', the number of respondents that claimed that they would rose to over a third (34%), suggesting that more would do so given the opportunity. The remaining 66% claimed that 'no' they wouldn't.

In order to determine whether this honesty was down to morality or the fear of getting caught, the study then asked 'Would you steal from work if you were certain you weren't going to get caught?' which yielded higher results as almost half, 48% said that 'yes’, they would if they were certain that there wouldn't be any consequences.

When asked why this was the case, the most common answer was because they felt that the company 'wouldn't miss the items' they were taking (37%). 29% felt that because they worked so hard it was 'their right' to take some items. 24% said simply that if they saw there was an 'opportunity to benefit from' then they would take it. Of those that said they wouldn't steal from work, the most common answer was the straightforward reason for not doing so was that 'stealing is wrong' at 57%.

The study then moved on to look at current workplace security measures , asking 'Does your place of work currently have any measures in place to prevent workplace theft?' to which 41% of respondents said 'yes'. The most common method for this was 'surveillance cameras' at 51%, followed by 'auto locking doors' at 37% and 'pass card entry' at 29%.

They were then asked 'Do you think that the current measures in place work effectively to prevent employees stealing, as well as protecting from outside threats? to which only 32% felt the answer was 'yes'. The majority, 68%, felt that employees would be able to evade security measures if they wanted to.

Respondents were then asked 'Have you ever seen workplace security breaches and not reported them?' to which 57% admitted to seeing some form of malpractice in the workplace which could constitute a breach of security measures.

Versapak provide a range of products to help protect against workplace theft including tamper evident containers, cash bags, roll cage covers, secure document wallets and mail pouches. Leon Edwards, Group Managing Director of Versapak, had the following comment to make:

"Workplace security should be of paramount importance to businesses. The business, it's customers and its own employees depend on working in a secure working environment.”

He continued:

"The majority of employees are honest and hardworking, which seems to be evidenced by our poll. However, there is always the minority who are willing to push the boundaries and 'take something back' so to speak. And it seems that if they felt they weren't likely to get caught, this percentage increases. Employers need to be vigilant and ensure that they have sufficient measures in place. Customer details, product parts and various effects are all at risk of theft or interference. It's not enough to rely on people's goodwill."