Employee theft can take different forms. Workers can steal merchandise, money, supplies and equipment and even pad their expense accounts. Regardless of the manner of employee theft, it still hurts your business and puts you in a tough management situation.
As a business owner, you do everything you can to hire employees who are trustworthy. If you suspect that a worker is stealing from you, it’s critical that you handle the case carefully.
Here are some tips to help you deal with employee theft:
- Launch an investigation – Gather evidence using financial documents, video surveillance, interviews with workers, and point-of-sale data. You should also hire a third party specializing in uncovering employee theft to determine if your suspicions are correct. It’s important that you document everything.
- Talk with the individual – Any employee who is being investigated has the right to tell his side of the story, which should be included as part of the official record. However, it’s important that you have at least one other person in the room with you to corroborate what is being said. Another person can also help just in case the employee becomes aggressive.
- File a police report – If you think the offense is severe enough, then you should notify the police. You most likely won’t call in the police if your employee steals some notepads and pens. However, if an employee steals a computer from your retail store or embezzles thousands of dollars, you should involve law enforcement. Filing a police report is also necessary to file a claim with your insurance company.
- Terminate the employee if you have enough evidence – If you are 100% sure the employee is stealing then you have no choice but to fire them. You should escort the person to their desk or locker to collect belongings, ensure that they turn in their ID badge and keys or anything that would enable them to get into the building, then escort them to the door.
As Ben Franklin so wisely noted, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Although these tips will help you after the fact, it’s important that you review your loss prevention policies and procedures with your employees to ensure they understand the consequences of stealing from you.