In our slideshow about employee and workplace theft, we highlighted some of the tell-tale signs of office theft and addressed its impact on both businesses’ bottom line and the American economy as a whole. Commercial theft is often perceived as a victimless crime — even by police. Once you have positively identified a suspect of theft or fraud, you might wonder what next steps to take. It’s always best to act immediately and hiring a private investigator is a logical and effective first course of action.
When conducting an internal investigation, it’s good practice to place the suspected employee on administrative leave, suspend them or temporarily transfer them to another location. It is completely lawful to gather evidence against an employee through various surveillance tactics; both covert cameras and undercover surveillance teams may be necessary.
Video evidence of a theft is the most solid in terms of proof, but witness statements may also be used. A private investigator may check an employee’s financial records, computer files and work e-mails to back up video findings. Careful documentation and confidentiality with interviewees is very important to prove that evidence has not been tampered with. Evidence gathered by investigators will subsequently be turned over to police so that they might take legal action; however, legal action can be very expensive — especially in criminal court — and it is often more beneficial to deal with theft through civil litigation. Each case is different and requires a different plan of action, but suing in civil court is often a much faster process with lower associated costs.
Once the theft or fraud is proven, you will likely want to terminate your employee’s employment. Make sure that you follow all legal guidelines to avoid any wrongful termination lawsuits against your company. The next step will be to recover your losses; you should be able to do this through your theft insurance policy. A court might also order restitution as part of sentencing if an employee has been found guilty of theft in criminal court.