If greenhouse managers aren’t prepared, cash and equipment thefts can occur at the least opportune times, says Brent Bates, Director of Safety Services and Loss Control at Hortica®, a brand of the Sentry Insurance Group.
Greenhouse thefts can be both internal and external, and be a theft of cash, plant product or equipment, Bates says.
Compared to wholesale growers, grower-retailers need to be particularly careful with their cash, especially on weekends when banks are closed and large amounts of money are on the premises. Additionally, greenhouses with landscape components are often susceptible to theft because of expensive equipment they use, such as tractors, forklifts and skid steers.
The most common thefts are external, Bates says. There have been instances where delivery drivers have tried to make forward sales to various prospective customers, but kept the money instead. Other employee thefts have occurred onsite. “They will identify where the money is being held so they know immediately where to go,” Bates says.
The steps greenhouse managers can take to prevent cash thefts is comparable to preventative measures that other types of businesses take, Bates says. Managers and employees need to check registers and ensure all cash has been accounted for. “After you accumulate so much cash, have an armored car system or a local bank system where you can go make periodic deposits during the day or during non-business hours,” he says.
Greenhouse managers can prevent equipment thefts by locking up keys to vehicles. “Make sure you have a proper check-in, check-out system of your keys,” Bates says. “When you have equipment at night, when you’re in non-business hours, take the time to put the equipment in a locked-up area with a fence around it, with multiple locks and chains.” It is also important to have welded vehicle identification numbers (VINs), he says.
Through its loss control program, Hortica works with insured businesses to come up with programs and checklists to prevent thefts, Bates says. The companies that are most successful in avoiding thefts are proactive and organized. When those companies purchase new equipment or hire a new employee, they provide training on what the best practices are.
“The worst thing about theft – if you’re not proactive, it can hit you at a time when it can hurt you the most,” he says.