The overly generous ATM machine gave staff free cash then provided photographic evidence to management of their crime.

17 staff at Luna Park, theme park in Sydney have been sacked after taking advantage of an ATM machine onsite that was dispensing $50 notes in the place of $20 notes.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that news of the fault spread quickly among employees, and some staff returned to the ATM multiple times to empty their bank accounts.

The machine’s camera was working fine, though taking photographs of each employee as some returned repeatedly to withdraw money.

Luna Park management used the photo’s to identify the culprits and about 17 staff were sacked on Friday and escorted out, one by one, by security guards.

Before they left, they were asked to sign documents promising to repay the money, but police were not informed.

“It spread like wildfire.” said a now former employee. “One person told one person, who told one person. People were keeping it on the down-low; they would only tell their closest mates. To be honest, it surprised me that there weren’t more people doing it.”

“A few retail staff emptied their entire bank accounts [but] most were just doing a one-off.”

The ATM company iCash Australia, owns and maintains the cash dispenser at Luna Park but does not supply the cash. The cash in the machine is loaded by Luna Park security staff who in this case managed to load the $50 notes in the section where the $20 notes were supposed to be, and vice versa.

iCash’s chief executive, Kim Stewart said some individuals had performed “multiple transactions” after realising the error.

“From what we understand, most of them were staff,” he said.

Luna Park management were not making any comment at this stage.

Comment

Many instances of staff theft are never reported to the police. Employers not wanting the publicity, paperwork or out of sympathy for the employee often opt for a quiet departure with little said.

I think though if a criminal offence has been committed then there is an obligation for employers to report it to the authorities.

If they don’t then all they are doing is potentially passing on the problem to the next employer who hires them.

If it is serious enough to sack someone over then just keeping the truth a secret between the employee and management is a half hearted effort that does not fit the crime.

On the face of it the Luna Park staff took advantage of free cash and did not give much thought to potential consequences. Many probably thought that it was not a crime to knowingly withdraw the cash. After all ‘if the bank is dumb enough to give out the money then that is their problem’ would have been the rationale.

In more extreme cases I have known of staff that have committed a series of fraudulent offenses on successive employers, purely because each employer was willing to sack the employee and not involve the police.

Aided by shoddy reference checking, these serial offenders make a sizeable dishonest living without actually racking up a criminal record.

If employers stick together and have zero tolerance for dishonesty then the workplace has got to be better for everyone. Other, honest employees will not have to face the shadow of suspicion when unknown shrinkage is rife, and consumers will not have to pay for the thieves’ lifestyle through increased prices to cover the loss.