Employee Theft: Don't Turn a Blind Eye to It

Employee theft is detrimental to your business for several reasons. In addition to lost property and income, which can drastically affect a company’s bottom line, internal theft or fraud can also undermine employee morale and your company culture. This could lead to high employee turnover, which is also a costly and time-consuming process to deal with.

What to Do When You Suspect Employee Theft

Fortune Magazine online reported that the combination of shoplifting and employee theft cost American retailers as much as $32 billion dollars in 2014, and that employee theft accounted for more than one-third of those damages. In addition to direct employee theft, business owners also have to contend with time theft, excessive spending on business, employees selling trademarked or confidential product/service information to competitors, vendor theft, and other forms of corporate fraud.

While it can be easy to turn a blind eye and hope that the issue sorts itself out, this is not a wise approach by any means; however, investigating the theft on your own can cause problems, too. When employees sense that you are suspicious, or if you outright accuse an employee or vendor of suspected theft, it can have disastrous consequences:

  • First and foremost, it can send the nefarious parties further underground, making it more difficult to uncover proof of their indiscretions.
  • Your accusations can insult innocent employees, causing a sense of betrayal that is impossible to recover from.
  • You can trigger a widespread employee quitting-spree, ousting good seeds along with the bad, due to lowered company morale or a sense of righteousness by innocent parties.
  • In worst case scenarios, you may trigger a violent reaction from the perpetrators and/or find yourself the victim of a discrimination case, rather than having the opportunity to prosecute those accused of the crime.

You can avoid all of these issues by hiring a private investigator to deal with the problem on your behalf.

A Corporate Investigator Can Get to the Bottom of Things

An experienced corporate investigator can interrogate employees, provide undercover surveillance services, and conduct exit interviews. There are several advantages to taking this approach:

  1. Employees are more likely to spill the beans. There is a significant advantage to having in-house interrogation and/or interviews conducted by a private investigator rather than upper-level management or senior personnel. In some cases, the “chain of corruption” can be more widespread than you think. If the corruption extends to your management, partners, or others that are higher up in the chain of command, your interviews could be meaningless. An experienced P.I. has a better chance of learning the truth. Furthermore, outside investigators set a tone of professionalism and authority that makes them adept at getting information out of people. This can be difficult to do when you have personal and/or longstanding relationships with employees.At Linked Investigations, our experience has been that corporate interviews and interrogation often lead to other useful information about what goes on behind the scenes at a company – even if it is unrelated to the suspected employee theft or fraud. This information can be very beneficial to you as you move forward and restructure your company. (You’d be amazed at the things we’ve discovered during our employee interviews. The information we’ve obtained has sometimes shocked our clients, as well as their employees, when it all came to light.)
  2. Professional surveillance services. Employee or vendor theft sometimes occurs right under your nose. However, more commonly, these acts take place offsite. Perhaps there is a vendor who is loading or offloading your goods elsewhere to make a profit, or maybe one of your key employees is selling valuable trade secrets to a competitor via weekly or monthly lunches or social outings. There are a myriad of ways internal theft or fraud can take place, and professional surveillance services offer you the best chance of getting the photo or video evidence you need to make your next move. Even something as simple and straightforward as time theft can add up to thousands and thousands of dollars, and a little in-house surveillance may be all that it takes to uncover it and take action to prevent it from happening in the future.
  3. Assistance with exit interviews. Once the perpetrators have been caught, a corporate private investigator can assist your company with necessary exit interviews, including signed depositions and affidavits that may be admissible in a court of law. At Linked Investigations, our photos, videos, and professional investigator reports are also available for your use. Additionally, we can serve as expert witnesses if need be.

Don’t turn a blind eye to potential employee theft, no matter how “small” you think it may be. The success of your company depends on more than just the bottom line. Employee morale is critical, and the healthier your company culture is, the more successful your company will be.

Contact a licensed and experienced corporate private investigator if you get the gut feeling that something is amiss in your place of business, or if you suspect an employee or vendor is committing corporate theft or fraud. Call Linked Investigations at 714-432-9911 or contact us via our convenient online form. We can help you to put an end to employee theft once and for all.

Published on: 
September 21, 2015
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