Employee theft can be a huge source of loss for wireless retailers and it’s a frustrating problem to tackle. If an employee steals from your business you’ll likely feel hurt and betrayed. How can you handle these incidents appropriately?

Learn what steps to take now so that future thefts can be prevented.

Investigate thoroughly and gather evidence

If you suspect that an employee has committed theft against your business the first step is to gather as much evidence and information as possible. You can’t just point fingers without substantiating your claims, so start gathering proof before you confront the employee.

Security footage from video surveillance is the best piece of evidence that you can potentially have, but all hope isn’t lost if you don’t have that data. Witnesses and physical evidence can be just as useful.

Contact the police

Contacting the police is important, especially if you hope to use insurance that covers losses incurred from employee thefts. Share your evidence with them as you continue your own investigation.

Seek legal assistance if necessary

Once you have your evidence it may be wise to contact an attorney. He or she can help you confirm whether or not you have a solid case and will also ensure that you follow all necessary legal protocols when taking additional action against the employee. If the case does enter litigation you’ll be extremely happy that you took this step.

A lawyer can also pore over your company policies, including provisions on termination and employee rights. If your company policies don’t mention employee thefts it might be time to update those documents.

Confront the employee in the proper manner

When you’re ready to confront the offending employee you’ll need to do so appropriately. Consider taking the following steps:

  • Set up a meeting with the employee, but do so very discreetly. Try to remain casual so that they don’t guess at the severity of the issue, which could give them time to make excuses and attempt to cover their tracks. You also want to “hide” the issue from other employees to prevent interpersonal issues within the workplace.
  • Hold the meeting in a private location away from prying eyes and eavesdroppers.
  • Remain calm during the meeting and try to keep emotion out of the conversation. If you gathered enough evidence you’ll be able to present your case in a calm and rational manner, so try to keep feelings of betrayal at bay.
  • Try to think of excuses that the employee could use to deny the theft and make sure that your evidence can refute any of those claims.
  • Avoid using words like “theft” and “thief” so that the employee can’t attempt to accuse you of falsely accusing them.
  • Record everything that you’ve done, including keeping track of evidence and keeping notes on any and all meetings that you have with the employee.

Decide on a course of action

After talking to the offending employee it’s time to decide on a course of action. Some small incidents of theft might merit probation or a written warning. Some employers will simply terminate employees who have stolen regardless of the extent of the theft, because if an employee steals once they’re likely to steal again.

If you do decide to terminate the employee don’t deduct any of the losses from their final paycheck without first consulting an attorney. The laws on this vary from state to state and you don’t want to be caught on the wrong side of the law.

Brief other staff members on the incident and do damage control

The word is bound to get out eventually, so it’s worthwhile to brief other employees about the incident to contain the drama. This is also the perfect time to do some damage control and revisit your policies around employee theft.

Try to learn a lesson (or several) from employee theft

As the dust settles you should start making notes about what you’ve learned from the incident. Make policy and operational changes that will prevent future thefts, including changing passwords and locks if necessary.

You should also spend some time brainstorming other ways that employees could steal from your business. After all, the best offense is a good defense!