Los Alamos Police Cmdr. Oliver Morris spoke to the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce Business Breakfast Tuesday on how to prevent employee theft and fraud.
Ranked by the Department as “white color crime,” fraud, embezzlement, forgery and identity theft cost businesses thousands each year, Morris said.
The Los Alamos Police Dept. (LAPD) has an impressive clearance rate of 60-65 percent on this type of crime and 56 percent on all white collar crime.
“The low crime rate in Los Alamos means detectives have more time to work on their cases,” Morris said.
The Department employs four detectives. LAPD has recently upgraded its surveillance equipment, Morris said. Covert video and still cameras are available to businesses that think they may be the victim of employee criminal activity.
If businesses maintain their own security cameras, it’s important to check them regularly and make sure employees know how they operate, Morris said. Businesses can call the LAPD and detectives can help set up cameras to the optimum advantage, he said.
“A lot of embezzlement comes from a feeling of entitlement,” Morris said. “We see this a lot in home care. “In our community, it’s huge. When the banks see something suspicious, they make us aware. Last year $250,000 was taken from an elderly resident.”
It’s important to have clearly defined rules to avail the entitlement mentality, Morris said. Background checks on prospective employees are also important.
If a crime is suspected, Morris urged business owners to call the detectives to conduct interviews with employees. “We’re experienced and trained and can weed out perpetrators using our interview techniques,” he said.
Morris described modern fingerprinting techniques and use of DNA for identifications. The problem is that the New Mexico Crime Lab is so backed up it takes around three months to get results back from the tests, he said.
The low-tech method of taking shoe prints is immediate and often effective, Morris said. “Shoe impressions linked the burglars to the rash of thefts last summer,” he said.
“We’re happy to come to local businesses and help you get set up,” Morris said. “It’s important to make sure we have your contact information up to date in case of a crime. I want officers to get to know business owners … we’re here to serve you.”