Magazine article Security Management

Kohler Counterplot Catches Criminals

Magazine article Security Management

Kohler Counterplot Catches Criminals

Article excerpt

A dash of legal savvy, a pinch of patience, and a dot of technology--actually, a microdot of technology--allowed Kohler Company of Kohler, WI, to cook up a skillful sting operation aimed at snaring the perpetrators of an alleged internal theft enterprise.

The case, culminating in charges filed last month in the Circuit Court of Sheboygan County, involves two employees who set up their own company through which they were allegedly selling pilfered Kohler products.

After receiving an employee tip early in July, Kohler faced the challenge of substantiating its suspicions. Management was able to verify the existence of the outside company, operating since July 1991, with the Wisconsin Secretary of State, but proving that the company was misappropriating Kohler products would not be easy.

One impediment was the putative criminals' relationship within the company. "This was a conspiracy involving a supervisor and direct employee, so they were circumventing all established policies and procedures at the company," explains Mark Powers, manager--security for Kohler.

The workers in question were allegedly evading not only safeguards designed to track inventory but also the internal marking procedures. Consequently, items being taken bore no company imprint. Arranging for the surreptitious application of identifiers using standard technology presented a problem, says Powers, as there were no hiding places on the items.

The company turned to microdot technology--a process that creates microscopic, laser-generated inventory markings encased in silicone. When affixed with rubber adhesive to company assets, the dots become passive identifiers invisible to the naked eye.

Of equal importance was the company's coordination of its efforts with local law enforcement and prosecutors. Because the goal was to obtain a search warrant, Kohler actively involved law enforcement officials and briefed the district attorney about the microdot plan before setting up the sting operation. …

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