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Workplace theft accounts for billions of dollars of shrinkage in Canadian business on an annual basis. Employee theft, or occupational theft as it is sometimes referred to, not only results in significant financial loss to the company; it also, in the absence of concrete evidence, may contribute to a pall of employer suspicion being cast over innocent employees. Theft situations require immediate attention and careful handling. Discipline or termination of an employee due to theft accusations not sufficiently supported by evidence, may prove costly to the employer should the employee seek legal recompense.
Many companies trust their staff and in most cases it makes sense to do so. However, the unfortunate reality is that a small number of employees do steal from their employers. The number of instances of employee theft varies depending on the type of job and the size of the company involved; but Statistics Canada data from 2008 shows that at least 15% of company fraud and theft is caused by employees.
Dishonest employees will steal most anything including cash, tools and equipment, merchandise, supplies, payroll, information and even time theft. The means and methods of employee theft are also diverse, as are the motivations. Theft may result from a moment of opportunity presenting itself at the right time to the right employee. A personal financial issue or simple greed may be the impetus for an employee to steal. More expansive or elaborate thefts may be the result of an organized crime-ring with pre-planned infiltration and greater coordination.
Regardless the situation, investigating cases of potential theft must be handled with great care. We cannot stress enough that making wild accusations is very risky and there has to be some very strong and tangible evidence to prove the case. Tools such as CCTV footage or computer records are the kinds of evidence that can firmly prove someone’s guilt.
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