Types of Lottery Thefts in Retail Stores & How to Prevent Them?

Types of Lottery Thefts in Retail Stores & How to Prevent Them?

Dealing With Lottery Thefts in Convenience Stores

You can find lottery products in many places, like convenience stores, grocery stores, pharmacies, and even supermarkets. People love to buy lottery products, especially instant scratcher tickets, which make up two-thirds of sales, and draw games like Powerball and Mega Millions, which make up the other one-third. In 2022, people spent a whopping $107 billion on lottery products. Nowadays, lottery theft has become a major problem for store owners.

Though, lottery products are good for communities because they raise a lot of money for public education, parks, and other important social programs. They also bring more customers to retail stores. But, some employees steal lottery products, and this is worse than when outsiders (or customers) do it. Lottery products are easy to steal because they are worth a lot and weigh very little. A few ounces of tickets can be worth $1,000 and can be hidden easily. Scratch-off tickets are even more tempting, because 20-40 percent of them have cash prizes, and no one will ask questions when you cash them in at any store that sells lottery products.

Lottery products don’t make much profit for store owners, only 5-7 percent. So, when someone steals them, it hurts a lot. The money from the stolen tickets is much more than the profit from selling them. This means C Store owners can lose a lot of money from losing lottery products! 

Sometimes, employees steal lottery products. This hurts store owners a lot. One way employees steal is from the stock room, where the scratcher packs are kept before they are sold. These lottery packs should be locked up, but some employees can get access to them. They take a pack, turn it on at the lottery machine, and sneak it out of the store. This is worse because they can take a lot of lottery tickets at once. Some lottery thieves have taken more than $10,000 worth of tickets in a few days. If the store owners find out quickly and tell the state lottery, they might be able to stop the thieves from cashing the tickets. But if they don’t, they will have to pay for the stolen tickets! That’s why store owners need to watch their stock room carefully and communicate with the state lottery often.

Another way employees steal is by playing lottery games when they are working, especially when there are not many customers. They might think this is okay because they use their winnings to pay for the tickets. But sometimes, they don’t win, or they don’t have enough money. Then they might start stealing. Store owners can keep a check on their inventory every shift, and see if any tickets are missing. Then, they can find out which employee is stealing, through a lottery tracking system.

Using Vending Machines To Combat Lottery Theft

You may think that lottery vending machines would stop theft, but they don’t. Not every store can get a vending machine from the state lottery. Different states have different rules and limits. For example, some states only allow vending machines in supermarkets or in stores that also sell lottery at the counter. Some states don’t have vending machines at all. Even in stores that have vending machines, employees can still steal lottery tickets or cash when they fill up the machine take out the money, or commit lotto fraud. They can also steal packs from the stock room, like in other stores. Sometimes, stores with vending machines may be more at risk if they think their inventory is safe and don’t track it well. Stores with vending machines need to watch their inventory carefully and know that these machines don’t make theft go away.

How Can Retailers or Convenience Store Prevent Lottery Theft?

Lottery theft is a serious problem that can hurt retailers’ profits and reputations. To protect their inventory and prevent losses, retailers need to follow some best practices for managing their lottery products. Some of these practices include:

Counting Lottery Inventory Every Shift

Retailers or store owners must keep track of how many lottery products they have at the beginning and end of each shift. This way, they can spot any missing or extra products, and find out which employee was responsible. Counting inventory every shift (through lottery management) also makes it easier to investigate lottery theft cases, as the time frame is smaller and the evidence is fresher.

Cross-Checking Backstock Inventory with State Delivery Receipts

Convenience store owners must compare and manage the number of lottery inventory they receive from the state lottery with the number of products they have in their stock room. This helps them identify any packs that have been stolen or misplaced before they are sold. They should also report any discrepancies to the state lottery as soon as possible, so they can avoid being charged for products they did not receive or sell.

Maintaining a Clean Price Book and Scanning Games Using UPC During Sales

 Retailers should make sure that all their lottery products are correctly priced, and updated in their system. They should also scan the UPC code of each lottery product when they sell it, instead of manually entering the price or product name. This ensures that the inventory records are accurate and that the products are sold at the right price. Scanning the UPC code (in a lottery management system such as Hisably) also helps prevent employees from stealing products by pretending to sell them or giving them away for free.

Implementing Clear Cash Handling Processes for Vending Machine Sites

Retailers who have lottery vending machines should have clear rules for how to fill up the machine with products, and how to take out the cash. They should also check that the amount of cash they remove matches the amount of sales reported by the machine. This prevents employees from stealing products or cash from the machine, or tampering with the machine’s records, which constitutes ‘Lottery Fraud’!

Investigating Even Small Thefts Immediately, and Communicating a Zero-Tolerance Policy to Employees

Retailers should not ignore or overlook any signs of lottery theft, no matter how small. They should act quickly and firmly to find out who is stealing, and why. They should also make it clear to their employees that they do not tolerate any theft, and that they will take disciplinary as well as legal action against anyone who steals. This sends a strong message that theft is not acceptable and that the retailer is serious about protecting their lottery inventory.

Cutting Down on Lottery Theft

Managing inventory well is important not only to stop thieves but also to protect innocent employees. Having a fair and transparent system helps to create a positive work environment and build trust among staff members. Store owners can use a software solution to make inventory management easier and more accurate, or they can do it manually if they are willing to put in the effort and stay alert.

What Does Hisably Do?

Hisably a fully-featured C store back office software for managing your convenience store’s bookkeeping. Use it to manage lottery sales, monitor financial transactions, and get instant data on cash flow.

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