Amazon trying to “trap” drivers

Amazon is planting fake packages on delivery trucks.  It’s part of an undercover ploy to catch drivers who are stealing from the company and, ultimately, its customers.  Once caught, it’s up to HR professionals to deal with the aftermath.

The Statistics

In a survey conducted last year by packaging company Shorr, 31% of respondents said they had experienced package theft.  To put that into perspective somewhat, the National Retail Federation says shrinkage, the business term for losses attributed to theft, error, or fraud, cost retailers nearly $47 billion.

Fake packages

So, how does Amazon pull off this “head fake”?

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During deliveries, drivers must scan the labels of every package they deliver.  If given a fake, or dummy package, the barcode reader will produce an error message after the package label is scanned.  When that message appears, the driver has a decision he or she must make.

  1. Drivers could call in the error to a supervisor reporting the issue.  This has the effect of confirming the person’s innocence.
  2. Drivers could keep the package on their truck and return it to the Amazon warehouse.  Again, this helps confirm the person’s innocence.
  3. Drivers could choose to steal the package.  The error message means the package isn’t detected in Amazon’s system.  As a result, a stolen package could go unnoticed.

That’s not the only way the company is trying to reduce theft rates.  The company has been known to show warehouse workers videos of colleagues being caught stealing.

HR Combating Theft

The reality is employee theft of any kind continues to haunt businesses.  How do HR professionals help cut down on the amount of theft?  Believe it or not, there are several ways.

  1. Recruitment - The most important thing is prevention. The first line of defense is properly screening someone.  According to, 75% of HR managers have caught a lie on a resume. 
  2. Alternating Responsibilities – If one person does the same job all the time, the person essentially becomes an expert in the process. That means they could exploit a loophole or error in order to do something supervisors would be unaware of.  When alternating duties from person to person, it becomes more difficult to hide something as they aren’t as familiar with the ins and outs of that particular position.
  3. Smart policies – There is a need to craft intelligent and reasonable policies. For instance, polices need to explain to employees what is and isn’t allowed.  For instance, if an employee uses company tools to work on personal projects, does that classify as stealing?  It’s also important to craft policies around time theft.  At the end of the day, it may not stop a person from stealing, but it might prevent a person from unknowingly committing a infraction crime.
  4. Surveillance – Computer monitoring or video surveillance are common ways to catch employee theft. The caveat here is HR needs to make sure these forms of surveillance are legal.  HR must balance the privacy rights of employees with the right to protect the company.
  5. Audits – An audit can help catch theft or fraud early especially if those audits are regularly conducted. This helps cut back on the amount of damage caused by the crime.


What happens when someone breaks the rules?  That largely depends on the violation and how the company has structured its disciplinary program.  Sometimes, infractions are minor and can be dealt with easily.  A simple word of advice or direction can correct the problem.  However, some issues are large enough that they warrant a different approach.

What makes for a solid disciplinary program?  An effective discipline program should comprise of the following:

  1. Philosophy – What is the philosophy of the program? Is it to punish or correct and educate?
  2. Code of Conduct – Employees should know the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. This must be easily accessible for the employee.
  3. Punishment outline – Employees should be aware of the punishment for a violation of the code of conduct.
  4. Non-discriminatory discipline procedures – Everyone is treated equally when it comes to disciplinary procedures.
  5. Quick response – Employees should expect a swift response if a violation occurs.
  6. Appeal procedure – Employees should have the opportunity to express their side of the story and it should be fairly weighed before disciplinary actions are taken.
  7. Reservation of Rights – Employers should explain to the employee that the program lays out guidance as to how disciplinary action is taken. The employer does have the right to adjust the program should the need arise.

Ensuring fair discipline

Keep in mind employees who live under this program will support it and cooperate with it if they feel it is fair.  A fair policy means discipline is applied equally to everyone without bias.  A fair policy, by the way, does not mean it has to be relaxed in anyway.  Discipline can be serious and harsh, but still fair.  Ultimately, a fair policy is much easier to defend in court than an unfair one.

Photo courtesy Stock Photo Secrets.

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Mason Stevenson
HR Exchange Network