What to do if you think an employee has committed theft

For all businesses, employee theft is a serious matter. It may be something small such as stealing office supplies, using a company vehicle for nonwork-related purposes and charging the company fuel costs right up to corporate espionage and data theft. The latter can have serious consequences for businesses both large and small, as you may fall foul of current GDPR laws and data protection regulations. This has a negative effect on a business for reputational and financial reasons, so it is vitally important you deal with any suspect employees immediately.

Just because you suspect an employee has committed theft does not mean that they have. For any further action to be taken, you need to first conduct a thorough investigation in line with UK law to ascertain whether the employee has in fact committed a crime or gone against your company policy and collect enough evidence to support disciplinary and legal action.

If you have a suspicion an employee is stealing from you, there are several steps you need to take before confronting the employee in question, regardless of the size of your business.

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 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.

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.   

Taking disciplinary action

Once you have conducted your investigation, either by using your own resources or by hiring a private investigator, and the investigation has found 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.

What OpSec Solutions can do for you

If you are looking to hire a private investigator to get the evidence you need if you suspect an employee of cheating, we can help.

Our investigators are fully trained to conduct investigations for businesses using a combination of cutting-edge technology, surveillance techniques and electronic monitoring. We have the experience and knowledge needed to perform any investigation discreetly and covertly to avoid unnecessary embarrassment should no proof of employee theft be found.

As you need a private investigator you can trust, we are proud members and accredited by the Association of British Investigators, the Institute of Professional Investigators, and the U.K Professional Investigators Network. This means that any information or evidence collected during the course of an investigation will be handled in an ethical manner 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 acquired. If you would like to know more about our investigation services or would like a free consultation to discuss your case, then please get in touch with us today. You can contact us by using the contact form on our website or call us on 0844 6641125.

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