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Theft

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the+squeeze+food+truck nycNEW YORK, NY - The bright pink food truck stolen from its Brooklyn parking lot early Sunday morning has been returned, its owners said Monday.

The truck bearing “The Squeeze” company logo was returned late Monday night after being stolen from its Williamsburg location early Sunday morning, its owner says. It had 1,500 bottles of cold-pressed juice in it retailing $10 apiece.

“This is my life’s work, and this is the kind of thing that destroys small businesses,” said truck owner Karliin Brooks, before it was returned. She normally sets up in Union Square.

Brooks said she knows the man who stole the truck: the suspect in the surveillance video is a former employee who’d been fired after two weeks when she learned he’d been arrested and sent to jail.

Brooks said the ex-employee used to drive her truck and he knew a spare set of keys was kept at the bodega next door. He apparently went there, told the bodega workers he was working a shift and got the keys, said Brooks.

He then bought a beer, then went to her prep kitchen and trashed it before ultimately stealing the truck, according to Brooks.

“It’s so easily identifiable,” she said. “I can’t imagine how he could drive more than three blocks without getting recognized. I can’t imagine how he could take it to a chop shop.”

Police confirmed Monday that they were looking for the ex-employee and the truck. It’s not clear whether he or anyone else has been arrested in the heist.

Find the original story by Ida Siegal at nbcnewyork.com <here>

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Employee theft is something that most food service business  owners encounter at one time or another and this fact hasn’t eluded the mobile food industry. No matter how well you think you know your employees there is always a possibility of theft.

food truck employee theft

 

Employee theft in food trucks takes many forms, including giving away free food and drinks to customers without authorization, stealing customer’s credit card information and stealing food or beverages for themselves. Many employees only steal because they know they can and their chances of getting caught are slim.

If your food truck employees know you have a system in place to trace theft, then most will respect that and not try to steal.

Here’s How You Can Minimize The Theft In Your Food Truck:

Track all sales

As the food truck owner, it is hard to be everywhere at once, therefore, it is important to have a good tracking system for food and beverage sales. Tracking food and drink orders through a POS system, you can cut down on the amount of “freebies” that staff might give out without your knowledge. Once an order is placed and sent to the kitchen staff, the ticket cannot be changed without the manager/owner password. Of course, a POS system used for security purposes only works if the kitchen staff knows not to give out orders without a ticket.

Track food inventory

Stealing food can be as simple as eating a forbidden piece of dessert while on break or it can be more serious, such as taking cases of food right off the delivery truck. Prevent food theft by closely monitoring orders, usage, and waste. Set up a system where at the end of each shift, inventory is taken and waste should always be written down. If the truck staff knows they are accountable for the food inventory, they will be careful to keep track of it.

Update your PCI for handling customer credit and debit cards

PCI stands for payment card industry data security standards. It basically means the rules that any business, including food trucks, agree to follow if they accept credit cards. PCI standards are administered through banks that handle credit card transactions. A major liability of using a POS system as a credit card processor is that transactions are via the Internet and could be hacked and your customers credit card information stolen. It is important to make sure all your computer firewalls and other safety precautions are periodically updated.

Install a security camera in your food truck

In our opinion, security cameras are blatant way of telling your staff “I don’t trust you” and not an ideal way to boost staff morale. However, if theft is an ongoing problem, they may be the quickest and easiest solution.

Limit access to cash drawers

Only the food truck owner, manager or head service window member during their shift should have access to the cash drawer or register. The fewer hands that touch the cash, the less chance of it being stolen.

While we understand that theft is a personal attack against a business, if you feel any of your food truck staff is stealing from you, make sure you have absolute proof of theft before you fire someone. We aren’t suggesting you keep them on staff, but don’t put your business at risk if you publicly accuse someone of theft without any actual evidence.

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Monthly food costs are like a pulse indicating the health of your food truck and they shouldn’t fluctuate more than 1 percent.

Several culprits for rising food costs included poor portion control, high-cost menu items and poor production planning. It is suggested that food truck owners review at least one of these item a day. Management should also “look at what goes into the garbage” and check in with staff to adjust how much they are serving.

food costs

Poor production planning drives up costs for vendors who run out of product or produce too much. It is recommended pruning menus and factoring in seasons and the weather’s influence on customer tastes. Having too many menu items can slow down service, increases food costs and complicate your mobile food business. You can’t do all things for all people all the time.

Specials are a great way to test new menu items and also offer customers items that are no longer on the menu. Food trucks must also know what their signature items are and play to their strengths.

Accounting errors, theft of product, theft of cash and buying the wrong product for the intended use are also major contributors to food-cost fluctuations.

Be sure to use the smallest countable unit for your inventories. Consistency is very important, so monitoring inventory (if you actually have one) and costs with monthly reports and watching for theft of products, particularly for higher-cost items like meat. By doing inventory, you take the temptation away from people. This is stuff not only they can use, but sell to their neighbor.

Some food truck operators struggle with theft because they don’t want to accuse their employees or believe they are capable of theft. Between product and cash, 3 to 4 percent of your gross sales can go out the back door to employee theft. This doesn’t even include cheating on the time cards, just product and cash.

Most well-run food trucks have profits that are only about 15 to 20 percent of sales. You can have one fifth of your entire bottom line (more if your profits are smaller) wiped out if you don’t get rid of the theft.

Rising food costs and other clues can be indicators that theft is a problem. Overages can be the kiss of death. Ten dollars over is far worse than being short because employees could be overcharging customers and pocketing the extra money later.

A simple to step recommended to mobile food vendors is to limit cash register access to one employee each shift and never allow that employee access to the final receipt of all transactions.

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Apart from your home, your food truck is probably your most valuable possession and possibly the most vulnerable to theft.

The rapid growth of the mobile food industry has come with an increase in the numbers of food trucks being stolen. Motor vehicle crime is a serious problem and, apart from the general inconvenience or costs for a replacement vehicle until insurance payout, the loss can be a traumatic experience for the owner.

food truck stolen twitter message

This article has been prepared to raise industry awareness of motor vehicle crime, and to provide information for food truck owners on ways to improve mobile food vehicle security.

Vehicle thief profiles

Understanding who and why individuals steal food trucks is an important first step in stopping them. Here are main three types of thieves who steal food trucks:

The opportunist thief: Frequently labeled as “joyriders”, they look for vehicles to use as a means of temporary transport. The stolen vehicle is normally abandoned the same day.

The professional thief : This criminal intends either to keep the truck or sell it for profit in an altered condition. The vehicle may be stripped, rewrapped, modified and resold with changed VIN numbers and registration plates.

The property thief: This criminal is not interested in stealing the truck itself, but is after any property or kitchen equipment that isn’t welded in place.

Protect your food truck from theft

Your basic goal is to make your vehicle a tough target, one that will encourage the thief to move on to the next one. Remember, the more time the thief is forced to take to steal vehicle, the more likely they are to get caught, so if you make grabbing your truck hard for them, it will usually pay off.

Here are some helpful suggestions to do just that:

  • Lock your truck. Approximately 50 percent of all vehicles stolen were left unlocked.
  • Take your keys. Nearly 13 percent of all vehicles stolen had the keys in them.
  • Never hide a second set of keys in your mobile kitchen. It might seem like a good idea, but thieves know all the hiding places.
  • If you are not required to park in a commissary parking lot, park in well-lit areas. Over half of all vehicle thefts occur at night, and thieves don’t like the spotlight.
  • Never leave your truck running unattended, not even if you’ll only be gone for a minute. Vehicles are commonly stolen at convenience stores, gas stations and ATMs. Many vehicles are also stolen on cold mornings when the owner leaves the vehicle running to warm it up.
  • Don’t leave valuables in plain view. Why make your truck a more desirable target to thieves?
  • Park your vehicle with wheels turned toward the curb. Some thieves use tow trucks to steal vehicles, so make your truck tough to tow away. Wheels should also be turned to the side in parking lots so the vehicle can only be towed from the front.
  • Since most food trucks are rear-wheel drive, back into your parking spot. Rear wheels will lock when parked making them difficult to tow. Front-wheel drive vehicles should be parked front-end first.
  • Always use your emergency brake when parked. In addition to ensuring safety, using the emergency brake makes your truck harder to tow.
  • Never leave the registration or title in the truck. A thief will use these to sell your stolen truck. File the title at your home or office and carry your registration in your purse or wallet.

Enhanced security devices

Food trucks can also be protected by the anti-theft devices which will slow down or stop thieves. As mentioned earlier, the more time a criminal spends attempting to steal a vehicle increases the likelihood of discovery and arrest. The following are some of the different types available that can be fitted to your vehicle:

  • Ignition cut out switch
  • Fuel cut out switch
  • Steering wheel lock
  • Transmission lock
  • Wheel lock/boot
  • Lockable fuel cap and wheel nuts (fuel and wheels are frequently stolen)
  • Vehicle Alarm System

We hope food truck owners find this article useful and follow these tips. If you use other tactics to prevent your food truck from being stolen please feel free to share them in the comment section below.

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Hungry Monkey Columbus

COLUMBUS, OH - Thieves are looking for more than a midnight snack at food trucks parked along streets.

Neil Hertenstein said that thieves took off with the generator for his Hungry Monkey food truck. The truck was parked in his south side neighborhood at the time of the theft.

“We can’t operate without that generator, so it’s a huge, huge setback to us,” Hertenstein said. Hertenstein said that thieves also took a grill and an iPad from his truck.

The food truck owner said that insurance will help him cover the stolen items, but not the business he’ll lose while he tries to find another generator and grill. “We had pretty big events scheduled for us that we are counting on and hopefully we can get caught up to where we were,” Hertenstein said.

The Hungry Monkey food truck was not the only food truck to fall victim to crime recently. Tatoheads food truck also had its front window smashed this past week. “I woke up to a concrete piece of curb smashed into the window,” said Dan McCarthy, owner of Tatoheads.

McCarthy said that nothing was stolen from his truck, but the broken window forced him to miss a day’s worth of income. “It was on the driver side, so it basically limited my ability to serve, and I had to miss service that morning at Pearl Alley Market,” McCarthy said.

Paddy Wagon owner Zach James said that someone stole the battery from his truck about a month ago. “Safety is a concern for me, because it’s my livelihood at stake,” James said. “It’s been an issue, and it’s an ongoing concern of mine.”

Food truck owners said that they were not sure if the crimes were connected. Police continue to investigate the incidents.

Find the original article with video at 10tv.com <here>

 

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Taco Sherpa

CHATTANOOGA, TN - Whit Altizer and his wife, Lindsay, owners of the city’s new Korean taco food truck Taco Sherpa, thought their new business was dead before it even started, Whit said Monday.

The couple’s truck was stolen over the weekend.

Although they found the truck relatively quickly, it gave them a scare and a slight setback.

“The ignition was messed up because they hot-wired it, and some of our lights over our serving window were broken,” Altizer said. “It looked like someone played an early April Fool’s joke and/or someone just wanted to see if they could get away with it.”

When Whit went to pick up the truck from Printree, where designers created a graphic “wrap” for the truck, it was gone.

Whit said he called Red Bank police and waited. He and other local food truck owners also got the word out via Facebook, letting people know that there are only a handful of food trucks in Chattanooga, and one was missing.

The Altizers stumbled upon their missing truck while on the way to a birthday party on Signal Mountain at 11 a.m. the same morning.

It had been parallel parked near the Cherokee Hotel near East Frontage Road, Whit said.

Other local food truck owners Nathan Flynt and Christian Siler helped get the word out via social media, Whit said.

“Nate and Christian really did get the word out,” he said. “Nate especially got on the phone with other businesses to post on their page. I can’t believe how quickly word got out. Our friends around the world even reposted our dilemma.”

Some people posted via social media that they saw it on East Frontage Road, and had the Altizers not seen it, Whit said social media would have been a great help and likely would have led them to the lost truck.

Flynt said the reasons he wanted to help are three-fold. Whit and Lindsay are kind people, and he is really excited to try their tacos, so if the truck is gone, so is his lunch, Flynt said.

Find the entire article at Nooga.com <here>

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LOS ANGELES, CA - Food trucks may be seen as a road to riches for foodservice entrepreneurs, but the owners of the No Tomatoes truck in Los Angeles learned over the holidays that plans can be curbed quickly by theft.

No Tomatoes

Several suspects have been charged in Fresno County, Calif., in connection with the Dec. 23 theft of the bright orange No Tomatoes truck from its commissary in Los Angeles. Police discovered the truck three days later in a motel parking lot six hours away in Fowler, Calif., with its signage skin partially peeled off and repainted with the words “Bad Boy Burgers.”

“The food truck industry out here is still a little bit like the Wild West,” said Kim Billingsley, director and co-owner of No Tomatoes, which took to the road on Oct. 22, 2010. A year later Billingsley opened the brick-and-mortar No Tomatoes! Indian Café in Los Angeles.

The theft generated attention on Twitter, where fans joined the hunt with Tweets about the license plate number.

Billingsley said the truck driver left the leased truck at the Slauson Foods commissary in Los Angeles at about 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 23. The truck was reported missing on the afternoon of Dec. 25, after a search failed to turn up the half-ton truck.

Billingsley filed a stolen vehicle report with the Los Angeles Police Department, and authorities in Fresno County, Calif., nearly six hours away, discovered it in a motel parking lot on Dec. 27 near Fresno.

One of the suspects is a former employee of No Tomatoes, Billingsley said. “The manager of this little motel had seen these guys spray-painting the truck,” Billingsley said. “He questioned them, got a license plate number and then called the police.”

The suspects had repainted the passenger/service side of the truck, as well as the front and part of the driver’s side. They also had peeled off any reference to the brand and city-issued permits, decals and health department grades.

“The one thing they didn’t remove was the license plate,” Billingsley said.

Find the entire article by Ron Ruggles from nrn.com <here>

 

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St. Louis, MO – Tom Broadwell gets plenty of attention driving his 1955 pickup truck, but it’s what he had in the back over the weekend that attracted the attention of a crook.

Papa Tom's Gateway Dog House

“Which was a generator and 100 feet of 50 amp copper electrical cable,” said Broadwell.

Somebody stole the stuff. The $4,000 generator powered Broadwell’s food truck, Papa Tom’s Gateway Dog House, and no power won’t cut the mustard.

“I can’t say it on camera what I really thought but, you know, how do I go from here,” said Broadwell.

Broadwell borrowed a generator to keep the hotdog wagon rolling, but turned to social media to help turn the wheels of justice.

The hotel gave him a copy of its security footage (adt reviews), and Broadwell posted it on Facebook and sent out alerts on Twitter.

The video shows what looks like a light colored jeep pull up. Then what appears to be a man approaching and eventually wheeling off the generator.

“I figured hey maybe somebody knows a person who looks like this that drives that vehicle and, yeah, we’ll see how it goes,” said Broadwell.

Broadwell also reported the theft to police.

Watch the video <here>

Find the original article <here>

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