Articles & Alerts

101 Ways to Steal in the Restaurant and Bar

May 5, 2020

Methods Perpetrated by All Employees

1. Employee doesn’t ring up sale and keeps cash.

2. Short ring: Under-ring the correct price of item and pocket the difference.

3. Serving and collecting while register is reading between shift changes.

4. Claiming a phony walk-out and keeping the money received from the customer.

5. Cooks requesting wine for the kitchen – and drinking the wine rather than using it for a meal item.

6. Picking up customer’s cash and claiming it as a tip when the customer thought they were paying the bill.

7. Wrapping food, etc., and dropping into garbage can for later retrieval.

8. Fictitious coupon sales. Manager or employee accumulates coupons and exchanges them for cash.

9. Producing surplus food (such as sandwiches) so it can be taken home.

10. Mobile catering drivers purchasing and selling their own inventory for profit.

11. Overstating the tip and understating the customer’s charge.

12. Server ringing up coffee and desserts and going to the kitchen to produce own order, bypassing the computerized system.

13. Cutting pie into a 7-cut rather than a 6-cut and pocketing the money for the extra piece of pie.

14. Server feeding friends for free.

15. Taking home silverware or glassware and selling at garage sales.

16. Server destroying guest checks and keeping cash.

17. Server claiming child or senior prices, and charging full price.

18. Claiming that missing inventory items were spoiled and thrown out.

19. Keeping cover charge receipts, or understating the amount received.

20. Gift certificates stolen and used by employees.

21. Personal telephone call.

22. Keeping funds from vending machines.

23. Employees taking food or liquor on their way out the door for lunch or for the day.

24. Selling food “to-go” without entering in POS.

25. Employee overstating hours.

26. Changing pre-set prices on register and charging customer higher prices.

27. Claiming customer was unhappy with a mean and wasn’t charged.

28. Collusion between cooks and servers—server does not record order on the pre-check system but the cook makes and issues the food without proper authorization.

29. Using old guest checks not in service.

30. Adding items to customer checks that were not ordered.

31. Confusing the customer with machine printed guest checks that are difficult to read.

32. Handwriting an additional item to pre-check guest checks.

33. Claiming that the opening bank was short.

34. Collects directly from the customer without a guest check.

35. Incorrect “Over rings.”

36. Incorrect “Voids.”

37. Making sales during ribbon or tape changes, or during shift changes.

38. Running a credit card through twice, or increasing a tip amount on a credit card.

39. Changing guest check after the customer leaves.

40. Employees under-charging a customer for drinks or food with the anticipation of a larger tip.

41. Short-changing customers.

42. Employees sign-in early and check-out late, or other employees sign them in and out, and they don’t work at all.

Methods Perpetrated Primarily by Bar Employees

43. Complimentary cocktail or wine coupons from hotel room sold by maids to bar personnel, which they place in the register for cash.

44. Adding two different customers’ drink charges together and charging both, claiming misunderstanding in who purchased the round.

45. Stealing change the customer left on the bar. Employees sometimes wet the bottom of their tray and set it on the customer’s change, so that the cash sticks to the bottom of the tray.

46. Collusion between bartender and cocktail server, where the server does not enter drinks into the system but the bartender makes and releases them.

47. Bartender totals out the register early. Then starts a new tape, totals it before he leaves and takes the tapes and cash with him.

48. Phantom Bottle: Bartender brings his own bottle of liquor onto shift and pockets cash from its sale.

49. Short pour: Pouring less than shot to cover “give-away” liquor costs.

50. Duplicate pour on computerized dispenser system: Dispensing and registering one shot, while short-shotting the liquor into two glasses.

51. Claiming a returned drink when the drink was actually sold.

52. Giving away free drinks: If no POS control exists and drinks are given to friends or in anticipation of larger tips.

53. Free drinks with cash on the bar: Customer places money on the bar, he is served without money being collected, customer leaves thinking he has paid for his drinks and left tip, but bartender pockets the money without ringing up.

54. Confusing a manager regarding the number or draft beers that are poured from a keg, by not ringing up draft drinks and keeping the cash.

55. Re-using old register drink receipts.

56. Cocktail servers understating sales when pre-check system is absent.

57. Bartender exchanges drinks with the cook for dinners.

58. Adding water to a liquor bottle to cover cost discrepancies. This covers not ringing up drinks.

59. Using lower priced liquor while charging for call brands.

60. When one person is in charge of liquor pick-up, check-in, and stocking, it is easy for them to take liquor home.

61. Charging regular bar prices, but ringing up prices as happy hour prices.

62. Bartender claiming new register or control is too confusing or time consuming and slows everyone down so they don’t use it.

63. Ringing cash sales on service or dining room key.

64. Ringing food items on liquor key in order to cover high liquor cost percent.

65. Free drinks to all visiting bartenders “courtesy.”

66. Not pouring liquor into blended fruit drinks to cover PC.

67. Bartender redlining service orders without ringing, then ringing later for a lesser amount cash sale.

68. Tip jars next to cash register make it easy to place cash in the tip jar and ring “no-sale” for register activity.

69. Falsifying cumulative register readings and “losing” tape.

70. Improperly using the training key (by ringing orders up on the training key).

71. Keeping free samples from vendors.

72. Bartender handwriting bar tabs and ringing in lesser amounts into receipts.

Methods Perpetrated by Outside Parties

73. Draft beer delivery person picks up one full keg as well as empties when leaving. This full keg is sold to another restaurant.

74. Draft beer system not secured at closing, available to janitor after hours.

75. Chefs demanding gifts of a personal nature in exchange for business from a purveyor.

76. Equipment supply companies sell unnecessary equipment or glasses that break and have be replaced constantly.

77. Customers send bill for laundry due to alleged food spilled on them by server.

78. Individuals posing as representatives from credit card companies sell unnecessary supplies to unaware employees.

79. Kickbacks from food vendors to employees (generally the chef or person doing the buying takes a commission and pays more for the merchandise).

80. Vendors deliver merchandise weighing less than the amount stipulated on the invoice (sometimes a collusion between the person receiving the merchandise and the delivery driver).

81. Linen server overcharge (taking wrong inventory and charging for invalid damaged merchandise).

82. People posing as representative of local newspaper selling phony advertising at lower rates.

83. Telephone company offers lower cheap long distance rate but never really changes the rate.

84. Restaurant is mailed phony bills from yellow pages or agencies selling phony labor law bulletins.

Methods Perpetrated by Mangers, Bookkeepers, or Individuals with Total System


85. Bookkeeper entering and printing check in Quickbooks for personal expenses, then going back into QuickBooks and changing vendor name to non-descript title and splitting the expenses so

that no amount seems out of line.

86. Manager buying software from a foreign country that enables him to reprint reports from open architectural system indicating lesser sales, and then pocketing the money.

87. Making phony daily reports.

88. The bookkeeper not making deposits by reporting cash short.

89. Bookkeeper adds a “less cash” line to the deposit slip and receives cash back from the bank.

90. Bookkeeper claiming improperly written check, NSF check, or incorrect credit card transaction.

91. Bookkeeper writing a check to the bank for FICA and getting cash instead.

92. The bookkeeper paying a fictitious bill to themselves.

93. Fictitious pay-outs added by bookkeeper. Sometimes employees do the same.

94. The manager adding hours to an employee’s check and splitting the difference.

95. Over-charging banquet sales, or not recording banquet sales at all.

96. Employee holding back deposits and investing or borrowing money. (Sometimes stolen money is invested in drugs.)

97. Manager sets up a phony employee on the payroll and deposits checks into their account.

98. Chef purchasing specific items not on inventory for employee consumption.

99. Cashier accumulating guest checks to ring up after a customer leaves. This enables cashier to change amount or leave out items.

100. Chefs asking purveyors to falsify invoices—transferring food purchases to supplies.

101. When a manager is balancing cash from a computerized POS system, they change some cash sales to promotional meals and keep cash. They do this and other methods when cashing out employees.

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