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Dealing with Employee Theft

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 16 Jun 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Dealing With Employee Theft

Stealing from your employers is not acceptable under any circumstances. Whether it’s just taking a few notepads and pens from the stationery cupboard to money going missing from a till or to an outright attempt to defraud your employer, any of these actions constitutes theft and is unacceptable behaviour regardless of your motives.

Why Employees Steal

When caught either in the act of stealing or when having to confess for one reason or another later, research has shown that many employees cite the fact that the company made it so easy to do so and, therefore, the temptation was too good to resist, even though their overall ethical beliefs would know that stealing was wrong.

The surprising fact would seem to be that employees who have been caught stealing have not been under any real financial pressures to do so. Many of them will point to having observed other senior members of staff helping themselves to this or that and so believed it was perfectly acceptable for them to follow suit. In other instances, perceived injustices against them, feeling undervalued or the way they’ve been treated by their bosses have also been cited as other reasons why they have stolen from employers.

Investigating Suspicions of Theft

In dealing with the possibility of theft, a company must seek to gather some kind of hard, tangible evidence that theft has occurred and that they can link that to a particular person. Accusing somebody of theft is a highly risky move to take unless you have hard evidence to back it up. Obviously, the likes of CCTV can help prove guilt in certain circumstances. Computer records are another useful tool in detection.

Other signs might be where sudden or even gradual changes in an employee’s incompetence or carelessness are not in keeping with their usual performance, although it must be said that this alone does not provide hard enough evidence to confront them. This example is only a supposition though and unless you’ve hard evidence to support your beliefs, there is nothing you can do except keep a discreet but watchful eye on the person you suspect until or unless they slip up and virtually hand you the evidence on a plate.

Seek Legal Advice Before Confronting an Employee

In the event that a suspected employee isn’t caught in the act of theft nor have they confessed, once you feel you have gathered enough evidence to support your theory more firmly, you need to present that to your company’s legal advisor first of all. If they feel you have a watertight case with enough evidence to prove their guilt then it’s important that you conduct any interview with the person in a calm and rational manner.

You should always try not to give them too much advanced notice, if any, that you wish to have a chat with them in private. This is because if they are guilty, advanced warning might enable them to concoct lies or alibis as to why they couldn’t have been involved. Just simply and politely say that you just need a brief chat after work and not give them any indication that it might be about a particularly serious issue. On the other hand, if you don’t feel an interview is quite yet justified, it may be that you can lay certain ‘traps’ or ‘bait’ in such an unobtrusive manner that would not cause the person to become suspicious that you may end up getting your suspicions confirmed that way.

The Interview

If you opt for the interview, however, you need to tell them the reason why you wanted to see them, explain the situation in a calm and rational manner and then give them the right to respond. At first, they might simply refute your claims and stand their ground but the more hard evidence you can introduce after they’ve finished speaking, the more likely they’ll buckle under the pressure and confess. They may not, of course, which is the point at which you may need to seek further legal advice about pursing the matter in court, if it’s a serious case.

The fact of the matter is though that before it gets to the confrontation point, you need to have hard evidence and to seek legal advice about how to proceed in the correct manner as it can be very risky to your own reputation and could even result in legal action being taken against you for slander, if your assumptions have been totally unsubstantiated.

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[Add a Comment]
@Thor - surely your husband knew that it was wrong, especially if these deals were being done at your house? But, if there is no evidence his boss was implicit in this 'arrangement' then there is little he can do and he'll be the one who takes the hit personally.
JulesO - 13-Jun-17 @ 12:33 PM
Hi need some help,my husband works for NHS Scotland,husbands boss regular got my partner to take things from hospital for both of them,husband thought this was fine as it was the boss that got him to do it,now my husband has been suspended an the boss is still at work because he said he didn't get my husband to do anything,the boss always came to our house and discussed what he would like to be taken,my husband has let them no that he did take but with the boss permission,but boss is denying everything,now it looks like my husband will be getting the sack,now his name is being tarnished.any help would be very appreciated.
Thor - 13-Jun-17 @ 9:30 AM
Hi I have just resigned from my sales position, basic plus commissions I have been placed on garden leave at home I copied my sales records and price lists to a USB drive to ensure in months to come I could check I had been paid monies owed correctly! My employer says he knows I copied data and is taking legal action Problem is I cannot find the USB drive as I may have left it at work before I departed, if this is the case is it technically classed as theft? Even if it turns up at home this would be usual as most of my work was done on a night preparing quotes checking customers and prices etc Really appreciate any feedback
birthdayboyo - 20-May-17 @ 10:07 PM
Hello. i have been accused at work for stealing,but they don't have evidence, so right now branch manager and my line manager they no longer talking to me, what can i do???? Please Help ...
TA MOCKS NW - 28-Apr-17 @ 4:06 AM
My ex Employer just accused me of stealing.money from petty cash over the last 3 months , which I feel is insulting as I never did so _ I left my job a week ago and his just now discovered that for the last three months it doesn't add up . Forgetting that he conveniantly takes for food or coffee or just takes and does not pay back . I feel that this is unfair as now that I have left and have not worked with the petty cash for a week . and 4 days of the previous week. How can I go about this ? As he has no hard eviedence other than a excell spread sheet that I had to fill out on and slips . in a small box.Which slips could be misplaced
danii - 24-Apr-17 @ 8:31 PM
Hi Tom, The manager did hand me the money and that is on camera and what is also on camera is the numerous times myself and other employees put in our own money when till was under. But yes I was very naive.
BB21 - 24-Apr-17 @ 4:58 PM
@BB21 - I feel your pain and some people get sucked into doing stuff like this - thinking it's OK. But it's not. If your till was significantly under - would you have put your own money in then? You have to declare the correct amount that's in the till regardless. Taking the money out and sharing it is stealing. Yes, you were naive. Perhaps, if it was on camera that the manager took the money from the till and gave it to you, it might have been different. But the fact you went into the till and took the money is what's got you the sack. Hard lesson to learn :( Tom.
TRV&8 - 24-Apr-17 @ 11:11 AM
Hello, have been dismissed from wrk - allegation theft. Worked in hospitality eight months perfect record. My duty manager had money over and gave me half and him - something all employees do as we can't be over or under on till. This came to light head office - suspended both me and my manager - then both dismissed. Both of us were told constantly till cannot be under or over - if under we would put our own money in!!! Anyway camera evidence showing us taking the money - but both separately we confirmed yes took money as that's what we've always been told (as it was!!) both confirmed our manager had told us to do this - again both of us separate - not hidinganything!!! What can I do - I've never stolen in my life - I'm only guilty of following both managers instructions and being naive! Not checking staff handbook! But I'm not a thief!!! I don't want my name tarnished not fair
BB21 - 23-Apr-17 @ 12:28 PM
Hi.i have a problem I'm working as domestic worker.my employer accused me of stealing in her house and she even ask the police to come and search in my house then they didn't find anything that belongs to my employer
Ziiii - 16-Apr-17 @ 12:13 PM
Muppet- Your Question:
Hi Got accused today of stealing hours apparently I was in work for three hours only worked one and a half( it is entirely possible that I did only work 1.5)? I am now under investigation? What are my options?

Our Response:
Only you would know whether you worked your contracted hours or not. You can see more regarding the disciplinary procedure via the CAB link here.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 11-Apr-17 @ 12:31 PM
Hi Got accused today of stealing hours apparently I was in work for three hours only worked one and a half( it is entirely possible that I did only work 1.5)?I am now under investigation? What are my options?
Muppet - 10-Apr-17 @ 1:17 PM
Jay - Your Question:
Hi. can anyone help me ? I am in a dispute at work over something I think is petty but apparently it's against the law. I work at a social club and sometimes my partner helps me open up the club, my boss has told me that he has cctv footage of my partner counting up the float with me and says that this is a scalable offence although no money has been stolen. is this true

Our Response:
In the first instance you would have to read the terms of your contract regarding your question. It should hold the answers within.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 10-Apr-17 @ 12:55 PM
Hi ... can anyone help me ? I am in a dispute at work over something I think is petty but apparently it's against the law... I work at a social club and sometimes my partner helps me open up the club, my boss has told me that he has cctv footage of my partner counting up the float with me and says that this is a scalable offence although no money has been stolen ... is this true
Jay - 9-Apr-17 @ 7:50 PM
@maria - I would have an 'off-the-record' conversation with your employer. If you can demonstrate how your co-worker is doing this, then this might be all the evidence you need.
AidyG - 6-Apr-17 @ 2:17 PM
Hi all, how can I deal with a coworker who is stealing? He is the accountant and he handles petty cash and salaries. He submits fake invoices and add overtime to himself and others and off course he takes the money. I cant gather evidence before accusing him and report him to our boss, because all the related docs and files are in his cupboard. We are a small company and dont have legal dpt or HR. Should I go to my boss directly? Should I try somehow to get evidence? A piece of advice anyone?
maria - 6-Apr-17 @ 8:02 AM
Last month got caught stealing £30 on cctv out till although admired on record it was over time about £80. Handed my notice is as got suspended, and the loss prevention guy said he was going to head office to update and also police station in my town that afternoon with the cctv footage. It's been a month now and I haven't heard anything. Do you think they will contact me or come arrest me? I have a 3 yr old and no one else to look after him if they do come, tired or sat in worrying, should iccontact the police myself?
Emj - 21-Mar-17 @ 11:14 PM
I got caught on cctv stealing £30 out the till at work, although it has probably been about £80. I admitted it was to pay off my sons nursery and resigned and the loss prevention guy said he would be speaking to head office and taking the cctv footage to the police that afternoon, it has now been a month later and I haven't heard from the police yet. Do you think they will contact me or come and arrest me? I'm a single mum and have no one else to watch my son if they do, and don't want to sit in worrying all the time but he said he was taking it further to the police.
Emj - 21-Mar-17 @ 11:09 PM
I had a phone call from.the bosses sister saying she had a letter for me.it wasn't hand delivered. Accusing me of theft. As when I handed him.some money. I thought that I got it all out of my coat pocket. Didn't realize some money was still in.my.pocket. he reckons he has spoken to a lawyer regarding this. If he had rung me I would have check my pocket
Helen - 20-Mar-17 @ 6:29 AM
Hi.I have been accused of stealing food from the teachers lounge at work.The food was soon to expire and the staff always throws it away.I decided after talking with other workers if it was ok to take home and they said yes because the teachers would throw it away.A month has passed and i was approached by the principal and asked if i took some food. I said yes i did and told her why.Because i was told by the custodian staff that the food would sit there and get thrown out.I am a black person working in an all white school.What do i do?I even told the principal i would pay for what i took even though the food wouldve been thrown out had it been left there.I am just hoping they dont try to fire me over this.If i had known that it was needed later I would never have asked to take it.I asked and was assured that this food was ok to take home because the custodians said they were going to throw it in the trash.I trusted that the custodians who worked over there knew what was going on since the work in this building.
Jay - 19-Mar-17 @ 3:17 PM
I've been suspended from work for theft of chocolate n crisps I've offered to pay the value back and reigned,awaiting a disaplinery meeting will the police be involved thank you
windy - 15-Mar-17 @ 5:02 PM
An work colleague of mine has been accused of stealing from our till at work, there is cctv footage of this apparently. However the manager has been showing this cctv to random customers he knows is this allowed?? He's told my work mate that this has been passed onto the police but I've had 3 customers say only yesterday the manager had the cctv out on his laptop showing them. My work mate wants to go to the police but customers are scared to say that they have seen the footage...
Acaster - 2-Mar-17 @ 3:54 PM
Hi I need some advice a work mate has stolen some money from my bag which was in a locker there is cctv of her going into my locker on 4 occasions over a 2 hour period but have been told she has her back to the camera she has currently been suspended but now she is blackmailing me trying to make me lie by saying I have found the money when I haven't and that I told her she could go in my bag when I never what can I do will the police even have a case please she is also known to the police for stealing
Luckhurst - 1-Mar-17 @ 11:09 PM
How would staff and management identify internal theft in a retail clothes store? With over 160 employees?
K - 1-Mar-17 @ 1:50 PM
Bee - Your Question:
HiI'm looking for some advice on how to further handle a serious situation with a group of employees. I've recently hired 4 evening cleaners to clean my offices. They are paid on an hourly rate and have worked with me for a period of 9 weeks. I have become suspicious of the work load that they claim to have so I e been watching them on th Cctv the past 2 weeks and noticed that the finish times they are lodging on their time sheets are very different to the actual times they finish. The differences range from 30min to almost 2 hours extra per shift of every employee. What are my rights in regards to their final payment. They have all taken upwards of $300 extra per week for the period of employment. I went through all the Cctv and am owing money from these cleaners. Can I widthhold their pay?

Our Response:
I'm afraid as we are a UK-based website, we can only answer questions on UK employment law. You would have to seek some employment law advice in your own country.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 1-Mar-17 @ 10:56 AM
Hi I'm looking for some advice on how to further handle a serious situation with a group of employees. I've recently hired 4 evening cleaners to clean my offices. They are paid on an hourly rate and have worked with me for a period of 9 weeks. I have become suspicious of the work load that they claim to have so I e been watching them on th Cctv the past 2 weeks and noticed that the finish times they are lodging on their time sheets are very different to the actual times they finish. The differences range from 30min to almost 2 hours extra per shift of every employee. What are my rights in regards to their final payment. They have all taken upwards of $300 extra per week for the period of employment. I went through all the Cctv and am owing money from these cleaners. Can I widthhold their pay?
Bee - 28-Feb-17 @ 10:40 AM
Shop owner dilemma - Your Question:
HelloLooking for advice, I've been having some issues with an employee where she seems to think it's acceptable to speak to me in quite an awful manner, being in front of customers most the time I wouldn't cause a scene. I've put it down to stress and what have you but this Saturday it got out of control. I normally allow staff to make lunch and eat it as a perk to the job, as long as it's needing used up or there is plenty for customers first and foremost, however we had a bit of a refurbishment and there was a delay in our delivery meaning we could not provide lunches.It came to lunch time, we had been very busy but never noticed the time and she asked what about lunch, I replied sorry never noticed the time, you go sort yours we will be fine (I pay the lunch break so classed as a working lunch anyway), and she responded with major attitude you expect me to buy it and caused a massive scene in front of customers and other staff. After saying yes I do expect you to go get your own lunch, as you did yesterday, as we cannot provide lunches and you were well aware of this, I then crumbled by giving her money and said fine if it's such a hardship get it with this. Mainly to stop the scene she was making.The next day I came in and she had went bought lunch for her and another member of staff on the account we have with a local shop (so effectively taking money out the till and going getting it). She walked up to me and said I got bread and cheese for lunches hope you don't mind and walked away.So after informing her she had to temporary supply her own lunch she helped herself to my money out the till and went bought some.I know it's sounds really petty, but this isn't the first incident and it's causing a bad atmosphere, I'm really at a loose end on where I stand legally and as a little shop don't have much resources to spend on legal advise.I actually have to hold down another job while having my own just to ensure the wages are paid and this is how I get thanked. Any advise on how to deal with situation and weather this is grounds for dissmisal would be very much appreciated.A desperate independent little shop keeper

Our Response:
You don't say how long your employee has been with you i.e has she passed her probation period? Also, what her contract states about workbreaks and supplying lunches. This is not a 'petty' affair and could be viewed as being quite serious and definitely sounds like this issue needs to be dealt with before it gets out of hand. Both ACAS pages here and here should help. ACAS is also on hand to help you try to navigate such problems without any repercussions. You don't have to seek legal advice and the process is quite straightforward, as long as you keep to the guidelines.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 15-Feb-17 @ 2:49 PM
Hello Looking for advice, I've been having some issues with an employee where she seems to think it's acceptable to speak to me in quite an awful manner, being in front of customers most the time I wouldn't cause a scene.I've put it down to stress and what have you but this Saturday it got out of control. I normally allow staff to make lunch and eat it as a perk to the job, as long as it's needing used up or there is plenty for customers first and foremost, however we had a bit of a refurbishment and there was a delay in our delivery meaning we could not provide lunches. It came to lunch time, we had been very busy but never noticed the time and she asked what about lunch, I replied sorry never noticed the time, you go sort yours we will be fine (I pay the lunch break so classed as a working lunch anyway), and she responded with major attitude you expect me to buy it and caused a massive scene in front of customers and other staff. After saying yes I do expect you to go get your own lunch, as you did yesterday, as we cannot provide lunches and you were well aware of this, I then crumbled by giving her money and said fine if it's such a hardship get it with this.Mainly to stop the scene she was making. The next day I came in and she had went bought lunch for her and another member of staff on the account we have with a local shop (so effectively taking money out the till and going getting it).She walked up to me and said I got bread and cheese for lunches hope you don't mind and walked away. So after informing her she had to temporary supply her own lunch she helped herself to my money out the till and went bought some. I know it's sounds really petty, but this isn't the first incident and it's causing a bad atmosphere, I'm really at a loose end on where I stand legally and as a little shop don't have much resources to spend on legal advise. I actually have to hold down another job while having my own just to ensure the wages are paid and this is how I get thanked. Any advise on how to deal with situation and weather this is grounds for dissmisal would be very much appreciated. A desperate independent little shop keeper
Shop owner dilemma - 13-Feb-17 @ 10:43 PM
@gloves. Your employer would have to know they have enough strong evidence to take the matter to court. I'd get some legal advice if you can. Mitch.
MMM69 - 7-Feb-17 @ 2:20 PM
Hi I have been accused of stealing from my employer I have asked for a copy of the cctv to prove my innocence but they have told me they left it too long to download the footage, I am now being taken to court over this and I would like to know where I stand with situation being their word against mine.
gloves - 5-Feb-17 @ 10:57 PM
i was charged of theft from my company and was terminated. my seatmate claims of losing her perfume. fr the cctv i was seen holding the bag the night before the incident and a day after - the day shes claiming for a lost. but the perfume was there. i hold the bag the 2nd time to ensure myself that it was missing and that i will not be one of the suspects. am with the company 6 yrs, no bad records, regularly and on time in going to work and yet this had happened. nothing was lost as the perfume was there. though i hold the bag 2x but i did not get anything. can it be called "theft"?
rita - 4-Feb-17 @ 3:21 AM
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