Physical removal of items, monies and IT from an organisation. Finished or unfinished, raw materials or products used in production such as paints or lubricants. Even waste and recycled materials. There is a marketplace for any product for sale or for use by an employee and you must be 100% sure that no one is taking advantage.
What Does Theft in the Workplace Look Like?
Around two thirds of office-based UK employees confessed to stealing from their workplace in a study conducted in 2016.
But that isn’t the whole story.
Just because an employee confessed to stealing from their workplace in a report, doesn’t mean they were ever caught. The employer could have no idea that this has happened. In fact, if two thirds of employees are doing it, it’s statistically likely they wouldn’t. Do you know if it’s happening in your organisation?
The police service is under enormous pressure and have little resources to investigate employee theft. Which means that it is on you to act and now is the time to do so.
Here is a recent case study, to show in greater detail one of the many ways that theft can happen and what your course of action should be:
£300,000 had been stolen from the business account and all suspicion was pointing to the lady in the accounts department. She was the only one with access to the banking system, and when she had been challenged about the missing money; she left her home and gone into hiding. Our client’s initial reaction was to report the crime to the police, but after an unsatisfactory reaction it was our client’s solicitor who recommended getting in touch with us.
The following day two of our investigators arrived at the office and commenced the investigation. Over the next four days statements of evidence were obtained, the computer system was forensically examined, evidence was preserved and exhibits secured. This was all done in accordance with current police methods of investigation.
The investigation showed the lady in accounts had been stealing money for her own benefit including a high-value vehicle purchase, several holidays, including a trip to Lapland with her grandchildren and buying thousands of pounds worth of photography equipment for her son to set him up in business. The forensic examination also proved she was seeking to buy a post office in the south-west of England.
It was proven that she had pulled the statements up from their online banking system, drag them into word documentation and then changed the figures she had stolen to correlate with the genuine figures that should be in the account. She would then zip the file and send it to the company owner who clearly saw and thought he had the genuine amount of funds in his account.
After four days of investigation the file was taken to the police. A full file was handed to the police and the employee was arrested, where thanks to the quality of evidence gathered, she made a full and frank admission and received a custodial sentence.
This investigation could have been carried out by someone internally, provided they were given the proper training. Better still, this company could have been made aware of their weakness sooner and actions could have been taken to prevent this dishonest activity.
That’s where I come in.
It's Time to Act
An employee has the OPPORTUNITY to commit theft and fraud within their daily role, or by a slight adaptation on their part. They will also know and understand the limitations of your systems, whether they are operational, IT or security and crime prevention systems. They will know how to work around them.
An employee will RATIONALISE their actions. Remember they are not a criminal, a thief or fraudster in their own minds. They will feel they have a right to illegal remuneration for any number of reasons. It is often irrelevant as to how they rationalise, what is relevant is that the rationalisation has encouraged them to commit theft or fraud.
And an employee’s MOTIVATION will always be financial renumeration. Never in my 30 years as an investigator (including as a police detective) have I seen anyone committing theft or fraud for a charitable or philanthropic reason.
A dishonest employee will always have that tipping point, where they have arrived at the conclusion that their motivation is important enough, they have spent enough time rationalising their actions and the opportunity is right. Take away their opportunity and you avert the situation completely.
That’s why it’s time to act.