Employee Theft is Increasing: Steps for Employers

Posted by Timothy Dimoff in on May 5th, 2015

Recent reports show that employee theft has been on the increase over the past few years. Many states, including Vermont, DC, West Virginia, Montana, South Dakota, Virginia, Idaho, Oklahoma, Texas, and Missouri have reported record levels of embezzlement. What does this mean to you and what steps do you need to take to prevent this?

Workplace Theft Statistics

Statistics about workplace theft contain some surprising and not-so-surprising facts:

  • Sectors that are at the highest risk include financial services, government, and non-profits — including religious organizations.
  • Embezzlers are most likely to hold financial positions within the company, with the most common form of embezzlement being the forgery of unauthorized checks.
  • The profile of the average embezzler is someone in their 40’s.
  • Women are more likely to embezzle on a large scale, but men usually embezzle larger sums of money.
  • Only about five percent of major embezzlers have a prior record.

Investigate Immediately

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What should you do if you suspect embezzling in your firm? First, assign an investigator. This might be a department manager or someone from security. You may need to bring in an outside firm to help. Either way, begin the investigation as quickly as possible to let employees know that you are aware and are taking steps to investigate and to stop the theft.

Check your state laws, but be aware that the statute of limitations begins the moment you become aware of possible losses, so it is important to begin your investigation right away. Also establish confidentiality guidelines for all employees, so they understand their responses during the investigation will not be shared with anyone outside of the investigative team or law enforcement. When doing this, beware of the NLRB’s stipulation that blanket confidentiality requirements are unlawful, so be specific.

Deciding what to do with an employee who is under investigation can be a problem, but you may want to suspend the employee under investigation during the process. Be aware that until guilt is proven, you may have to pay the employee until you know if you are filing charges.

When you have your determination you can choose to seek restitution from the employee, file a civil suit and/or press criminal charges. Make sure your evidence is clear and convincing, so that you can defend your action.

Timothy Dimoff
Timothy Dimoff

President, SACS Consulting & Investigative Services

Timothy A. Dimoff, CPP, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority in high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime issues.
He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Dennison University.

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