Money Room Loss-Prevention Tips From Mark Manney, Inspired By 'Mom'

by Mark Manney
Posted On: 11/20/2018

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CREEDMOOR, NC -- "If You Want to keep the Beer Cold Put it next to Mom's Heart" is a true story about a 24-year money room manager nicknamed Mom who was exposed stealing more than $1,000 in one day. The details appear in an article I wrote for the September/October issue of VT. (Click here to read it).
Having exposed money room theft in somewhere around a third to a fourth of my clients over the years, I wanted to offer some money room controls that any operator of any size can build into the day-to-day operating culture of the room with all the money. Prevention and deterrence through proven controls is how you keep your profits.
Theft in the money room poses the greatest risk to any operator, both in the frequency and severity of the losses. The vending industry must adopt the same money room policies that the casino, banking, and big-box retail industries have.
Just A Few Other LPR Money Room Cases

>> A 12-year money room manager used the cover of being a successful stock market day trader to explain his high-end life style while in reality he was stealing daily, usually from routes already suspected of having dishonest employees stealing from them. He was friends with the operations VP and knew what routes were cash short -- he skimmed mostly from them. I have run into this ploy many times. The route driver gets managed out…then the dishonest money room employee (or route relief driver) stops stealing from that route and it looks like the thief is gone. Then in time they just move onto another route: Rinse, wash, repeat.
A counter in the same money room was also stealing because he had seen the boss steal in the vault and cop bills for lunch. Both were exposed by covert pre-counts, and confessed during interrogations.
>> All three counters in a client's money room were stealing cash, separately; they were exposed by covert cameras stealing in known blind spots of the existing camera system. This large client's cash loss improved 75% the next month.
>> A long-term manager would enter the money room after everyone left and skim from bags to be counted the next day. It is estimated he stole about $30,000 before being accidently exposed. The monitors for the money room camera system were in his office. He had been trained on the LPR program and was leading multiple active investigations for my client. He was prosecuted with extreme prejudice by the owner.
>> A money room counter admits to stealing $7,000. She had been captured on covert video stuffing $500 into the front of her pants three different times. She had stacked boxes in front of a fixed camera that covered the safe.
>> Covert pre-counts are started on selected route drivers' collections and five collection bags come up short! A long-term manager (who did not know about the pre-counts resigned with no notice when he found out about the pre-counts. He would not come back in to talk to me. Cash shortage in that district was suddenly reduced by 80%.
>> A 22-year office/money room manager, who the owner said was like a daughter to him, admitted under police interrogation to embezzling $150,000 from the money room over two decades. She had the capability of eliminating sales, had access to the money room and would be the last one to close the office, often alone.
During the first covert pre-count in an LPR client's money room after employees had gone for the day, a dollar bill counter was accidentally left on. When one of the three counters found out from another counter the next day at lunch that it was running when she opened, she suddenly went home sick, then called in and resigned with no notice. Three of her bags had come up short during that first secret pre-count audit. Her mother also worked in the money room. Cash shortage was immediately cut by 50% in the company. She refused to come back in to talk to me.
>> A client with a one-person money room counter and chronic random cash losses that screamed, "either someone with keys or a counter" installed a one-way mirror/window in the door in the money room. Office desks facing the window allowed multiple employees to see most of the room and the counters activates. The counter quit with no notice the day after the one-way mirror/window was installed. Cash shortages dropped 90% and stayed there.
Money Room Best Practices

The most common problem within vending money rooms, from the smallest operations to national and regional companies is that many do not follow recognized casino, banking and retail money room best practices:
1. Never-ending, focused and advertised (to money room employees) pre-counts.
      • The gold standard of deterring and exposing money room theft.

2. Money room employee three-part screen.
      • Yearly -- national criminal credit header (liens, judgments, bankruptcy) – assets. Know who you have counting your money and what is behind their curtain.
       • This does not violate the *Fair Credit Reporting Act as thought by many operators and some HR managers. It's perfectly legal and you don't have to tell anyone.
3. A quality cross-fire motion-activated digital CCTV system with electronicfence e-mail alert capability covering every nook of the money room, vaults and safes.
       • This type of system can be preprogrammed so that when there is motion in the money room outside of certain times (electronic fence) an e-mail will automatically be sent -- outside the operation -- to the owner.
4. Provide money room employees and management with lockers, with locks and dual keys, one for them and one for the company. A camera should also cover the lockers. All their "stuff" listed below stays in their locker:
      • Nothing is ever allowed in the money room: No jackets, lunches, purses, bags, umbrellas, newspapers -- nothing ever, for any reason.
     • Breaks/lunches are taken outside the money room together, at the same time.
No one is alone unless unavoidable. Unless it is a small money room with one employee -- one person (including management) is never, ever allowed inside the money room alone.
     • Access review -- the absolute minimum number of individuals have access and keys/codes to the room with all the money. Keys/codes are strictly controlled. Eliminate as many authorized employees as possible.
     • Company-provided jumpsuits with no pockets for all counters/manager. All the casinos do this. I have only had one company take this step … but they were on the verge of bankruptcy and their cash losses were horrendous. We cut them by 85% in two months. This wasn't the reason…but it was a reason.
Here is why it's legal to do criminal, credit header (liens, judgments, bankruptcy) and asset (homes, boats, other company affiliations, etc.) Internet searches on any employee under investigation. No one needs to know.
     * Fair Credit Reporting Act (Section of the law allowing three-part screens on all present employees)
§ 603. Definitions; rules of construction [15 U.S.C. § 1681a]
(x) Exclusion of Certain Communications for Employee Investigations
     (1) A communication is described in this subsection if-
         (A) but for subsection (d)(2)(D), the communication would be a consumer report;
         (B) the communication is made to an employer in connection with an investigation of–
              (i) suspected misconduct relating to employment; or
              (ii) compliance with Federal, State, or local laws and regulations, the rules of a self- regulatory organization, or any preexisting written policies of the employer;
         (C) the communication is not made for the purpose of investigating a consumer's creditworthiness, credit standing, or credit capacity; and
         (D) the communication is not provided to any person except to the employer or an agent of the employer
Check out my Micromarket and Foodservice Loss Prevention Manuals in the VT Bookstore for more proven, built-in-the-trenches loss prevention best practices.
You work hard for your money…who gets to keep it?

 » Mark Manney is the founder and chief executive of Loss Prevention Results Inc.(LPR). He is also the author of: “The Brave New World of Micromarket Loss Prevention” a 50-plus page step-by-step Micromarket Loss Prevention manual available in the Vending Times Bookstore (   For more information on LPR’s versatile capabilities, call (919) 812-3602 or e-mail or visit the LPR website at