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Using Integrated Security to Prevent Employee Liquor Theft at Bars and Restaurants

Employee theft of liquor is a significant issue faced by many restaurant and bar owners. It not only results in financial losses but also damages the reputation and trust of your establishment. Recent statistics indicate that employee theft in the hospitality industry, specifically related to liquor, is a growing concern. In this blog post, we will explore the extent of this problem and provide insights into how restaurant and bar owners can use security cameras, video management systems (VMS), and integrated security and access control technology to prevent and mitigate employee theft.

The Scope of Employee Theft in the Hospitality Industry

Recent statistics show that employee theft in the hospitality industry, particularly involving liquor, is on the rise. According to the National Restaurant Association, employee theft accounts for nearly 75% of inventory shrinkage in the restaurant and bar industry. In 2021, the average bar or restaurant lost about 7% of their total revenue to employee theft, which is a substantial financial hit for any business.

Common Methods of Employee Theft

To combat employee theft effectively, it's crucial to understand the methods employees commonly use to steal liquor. The following are some of the most common tactics:

1. Free-Pouring: Bartenders or servers pour drinks without accurately measuring, leading to over-pouring and pocketing the difference.

2. Overcharging: Employees overcharge customers and keep the extra cash for themselves.

3. Under-Ringing: Employees manipulate the point-of-sale (POS) system to under-ring orders or not ring them at all.

4. Self-Service: Employees serve themselves drinks or allow friends to do so without recording the transactions.

5. Unauthorized Consumption: Staff consume liquor without permission or steal bottles.

Preventing Employee Theft with Security Cameras

Security cameras are a fundamental tool in preventing employee theft. They serve as both a deterrent and a source of evidence. Here's how you can leverage them:

1. Coverage: Ensure your establishment is thoroughly covered with security cameras, including the bar area, stockrooms, and cash registers.

2. High-Quality Cameras: Invest in high-resolution cameras that can capture clear details, even in low-light conditions.

3. Remote Access: Choose a VMS that allows remote monitoring, enabling you to keep an eye on your establishment from anywhere.

4. Video Analytics: Implement video analytics to detect unusual behavior, such as unauthorized access to liquor storage areas.

5. Storage and Retention: Store video footage securely and adhere to data retention laws to maintain evidence if needed.

Leveraging VMS and Integrated Security Technology

Video Management Systems (VMS) play a vital role in managing and analyzing video footage. Additionally, integrating security and access control technology can enhance your security measures:

1. Alarm Integration: Integrate your VMS with alarms to receive immediate notifications when unauthorized access is detected.

2. Access Control: Implement keycard or biometric access systems to restrict entry to sensitive areas, such as liquor storage.

3. Inventory Management: Use inventory management software to track liquor usage, helping to identify discrepancies.

4. POS Integration: Connect your VMS with the POS system to cross-reference sales data with video footage, making it easier to spot irregularities.

5. Training and Policy: Provide training for employees on the use of security systems and establish clear policies on acceptable conduct.


Employee theft of liquor is a pervasive issue in the restaurant and bar industry. The latest statistics show that it's a problem that continues to grow. By utilizing security cameras, video management systems, and integrated security and access control technology, restaurant and bar owners can effectively combat employee theft, reduce losses, and protect their businesses. These measures not only serve as deterrents but also provide valuable evidence should theft occur. Protect your establishment's reputation and profitability by implementing a robust security strategy today.

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