Objectivity is the cornerstone to a private investigator’s work – and success in doing that work. As we discuss here at offices, uncovering the truth is based on facts. We don’t make judgments other than those that help us follow-up or lead us to conclusions to further an investigation.
Good investigators are keen observers and study cause and effect as well as patterns and trends. In recognizing patterns we can anticipate what a subject might be likely to do and then be prepared.
A good example is in the situation where we are contacted about possible theft by employees. By looking at the work environment we can often determine what kind of clues to look for.
Theft in the workplace can include a variety of different forms:
- Employee embezzlement
- Employee theft of supplies or materials
- Employee stealing clients
- Employee stealing confidential client lists
- Employee stealing confidential research and development data
Employee theft investigations always begin in the workplace. Investigators need to understand the operations and the situation. That’s when the patterns begin to appear. Studying hours of video footage and listening to conversations, investigators not only hear the clues about the potential crime, but also what some consider to be the cause.
From our years investigating theft by employees, we have seen companies foster factors that enhance the potential and likelihood of employee theft. Employees working under certain unfavorable conditions may be tempted into criminal conduct and then angered to act on it. Some of those factors include:
- Low pay, few benefits, uncertain job security
- Lack of advancement opportunities
- Little structure and accountability
- Unclear roles and responsibilities
- Unfriendly relationships, peers or supervisors who are belligerent or combative
- Little recognition for good performance, extra efforts, length of service or loyalty
- Inconsistent operations and systems such as audits or inventory
- Nebulous company values and ethical practices
- Lack of training and bias or unfair firing, promotion and evaluation of workers
- Hiring without screening or conducting rigorous due diligence
Unhappy or stressed employees are more likely to be involved in theft in the workplace or employee embezzlement. The work environment, including culture, relations and operational systems sets the stage.
Before employers find themselves hiring an investigator because they suspect something is amiss, they should take some time to assess their work environment to determine if they are fostering any of the above list.
can help with employee theft investigations by installing surveillance equipment that denotes criminal behavior is not acceptable and theft by employees will not be tolerated. We leave building the culture and values of the company up to you.
-Brenda McGinley, CEO, All in Investigations, All in Investigations