3 ways to deal with employee theft

If you suspect that one of your employees may be stealing from your business or organisation, it can put a strain on the company and internal relationships, as well as putting your business at risk of financial trouble and falling foul of compliance regulations if they are stealing data. 

Employee theft can range from stealing office supplies to corporate espionage and theft of sensitive information. Regardless of what is being stolen, higher management needs to be quick and efficient at both identifying any losses and dealing with the situation to prevent any further negative consequences for the business. 

So, what do you do if you suspect an employee of theft?

  1. Conduct an internal investigation

If you have any suspicions regarding an employee, then the first step is to conduct an internal investigation to ascertain if the suspect is actually guilty. Businesses are legally allowed to launch an investigation if they suspect an employee of theft, however, any investigation needs to be carried out sensitively, in line with any internal policies and procedures and in full compliance with the law. Doing this through the appropriate channels can protect your business should the need for legal action arise. 

How you conduct an investigation entirely depends on company policy and the seriousness of the suspected offence. If after the investigation is finished there is no evidence of wrongdoing, yet you still have concerns, it may be worth bringing in an external investigator who specialises in employee theft. 

  1. Hire a private investigator

Hiring an expert such as a private investigator is often the next step if an investigation has failed to uncover any evidence but there is still reason to suspect an employee of theft, or you can hire an external investigator from the outset if you believe that to be in the better interest for both your business and your employee.

Private investigators are often the best choice, especially if you suspect your employee of stealing sensitive data and sharing or selling it to your competitors. They are highly skilled in detecting anomalies and most will come from either a police or corporate background, so you get the knowledge and expertise to obtain the evidence you need if an employee is found to be stealing. 

So, what can a private investigator do if you suspect an employee of theft? 

  • Surveillance: Including your business properties to examine employee, on-site movements.
  • Check whether an employee is emailing or calling people they shouldn’t be.
  • See how (and where) company cars or vans are being used
  • Employee monitoring: Private investigators can monitor activity on a workplace computer network or work phone system when authorised by the owner/company. 
  • Technological forensics: Under certain circumstances, private investigators can carry out mobile phone and computer forensics to recover deleted information. 

If you have any suspicions of employee theft and would like help to conduct an internal investigation, it is important you choose a reputable private investigation firm or private investigator. Make sure they are a member of an industry trade body such as the Association of British Investigators (ABI), the Institute of Professional Investigators, and the U.K Professional Investigators Network. This means that, when employing anyone to help you with a corporate investigation, you have peace of mind that these experts will find the truth and any private investigative services, methods and techniques are carried out ethically, legally and with full confidentiality.   

  1. Disciplinary action or criminal investigation

If an investigation finds enough evidence to prove wrongdoing by your employee, then this is generally considered an act of gross misconduct. You have several options to deal with employee theft depending on the circumstances and how much proof you have collected. 

You can suspend your employee if you need to carry out any further investigations, or if you have enough grounds for dismissal, you can fire the employee. However, you must adhere to these rules:

  • You genuinely believe misconduct has occurred
  • You had reasonable grounds for this belief
  • A reasonable investigation was carried out that led you to this belief

If the theft is serious enough, you may consider turning the matter over to the police and we would always recommend discussing the case with a legal representative to ensure you have adhered to employment guidelines. 

Why choose OpSec Solutions for your internal investigation?

We understand that the trust factor is invaluable when it comes to corporate investigations. You do not want to pay money for a private investigator to end up with zero court-admissible evidence if an employee is found to be stealing. 

With over 10 years of experience, OpSec Solutions have earned full accreditations from the Association of British Investigators, the Institute of Professional Investigators, and the U.K Professional Investigators Network and any information that is acquired during the course of an investigation will be handled sensitively and in accordance with all data protection laws. We are registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office and consistently meet the highest standard for registration and take the guidelines around obtaining and the subsequent storage of data extremely seriously, which helps protect your business, your employees and any evidence collected. 

If you think OpSec Solutions could help your business with an internal investigation, or if you suspect fraud or theft within your business enterprise, then please contact our team using our contact form on the website or call us on 0844 6641125.

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