Tips on Avoiding Employee Theft in the Workplace

As a business owner, you take tremendous pride in your business and employees. You work hard for your money and do everything in your power to hire the best employees in order to prevent employee theft. 

Unfortunately, employee theft can happen to any business owner. This makes it more important than ever to take precautionary measures. You may be wondering how to avoid employee theft and how to report employee theft to the police, along with other questions. 

For more information about dealing with employee theft and for ways to help prevent it from happening, then keep reading. You’ll learn crucial information every business owner needs to know before hiring their next employee.

Preventing Employee Theft

In order to avoid employee theft, there are preventative measures that can be taken. For starters, always complete thorough background checks on your employees. Make sure to conduct the same test for every employee, regardless of gender, race, religious background, or anything else. 

There are countless online services that conduct background checks. This helps you to choose the best employees for your business. Even though background checks don’t guarantee theft won’t occur, they can reduce the chances of it happening. 

In addition to a background check, be sure to ask prospective employees for professional references. Ideally, these should be from former employers or managers.

A reference from a former colleague is also acceptable. This allows you to ask questions and to learn about their reliability as an employee. 

If you have an employee working in a sensitive position that deals with company funds, switch it to two employees working together. When employees work together, there is less opportunity for theft. 

Keep open lines of communication with employees, maintaining a positive workplace. Reasons for theft range from financial issues at home to something nefarious such as revenge. Know your employees in order to spot red flags before a theft occurs. 


Part of a healthy work environment includes providing a safe place for whistleblowers. Let employees know that if they report theft, it will be confidential and that they’ll be protected. 

In order to encourage whistleblowers to come forward, incentivize these reports. Offer bonuses or extra vacation days for anyone who reports theft that turns out to be true. 

If you notice corporate spending increases, then investigate without hesitation. Conduct random audits employees aren’t expecting to ensure theft isn’t taking place. 

Establish strong ethical practices within your business, so employees know where you stand from the get-go. Explain that there is  zero-tolerance for employee theft and that swift actions will be taken should theft occur. 

Set Standards Within the Workplace

There are plenty of advantages to having a good working relationship with employees. However, it’s also important to establish clear-cut guidelines from day one. Letting employees know that theft will not be tolerated is a good way of deterring them from stealing from the company. 

If employees know that proven theft will result in immediate termination, they may think twice before stealing. However, you must have in writing the steps taken when employees are suspected of theft. This ensures these guidelines are strictly adhered to. 

It’s also crucial that you not accuse an employee of theft without proof. In the event that you’re wrong, you can damage the relationship with your employee, as well as jeopardize their career. 

Ways of proving employee theft include video footage with security cameras. However, without concrete evidence, you shouldn’t confront your employee.

Gather information and documents to support your accusation. You can also speak confidentially with other employees who may have witnessed the theft, or with your attorney.

Confronting Your Employee

If you have concrete evidence and can support your claim of employee theft, it’s time to confront your employee. This is a crucial part of dealing with employee theft, as you don’t know how they’ll react. 

Guilty employees may feel remorse for their actions, admitting what they did. This is where you need to follow through with the disciplinary measures outlined in your employee handbook. The type of discipline you enforce should depend on the type of theft that occurred.

Minor theft may result in a disciplinary report in your employee’s permanent file. You might consider asking them to repay what they took and explain your disappointment. 

More serious theft or embezzlement would have a heftier penalty, such as immediate termination. Again, be sure to have concrete proof before moving forward with accusing your employee of theft or firing them. 

For serious employee theft or embezzlement, you can also place your employee on immediate leave without pay. This will allow you time to consult your attorney and decide whether or not to file a police report. Make sure your employee leaves the building without any company property, including a laptop, keys, or work phone. 

Reasons to Report Employee Theft to the Police

If you and your attorney decide to report employee theft to the police, be sure to follow through immediately. 

When substantial amounts of money are stolen or a large quantity of merchandise is taken by an employee, reporting it to the police is best. This allows you to file an insurance claim if you have employee theft coverage. You also set an example for other employees that there’s a zero-tolerance policy in place for employee theft. 

Contact your local police station to set up a time to file a police report. Be sure to bring with you any and all documentation you have to support your claim and familiarize yourself with employee theft law. 

Maintain a Healthy Work Environment

A healthy work environment is less likely to experience employee theft. Since theft can occur for a variety of reasons, offer support to employees to prevent employee theft. Mental health resources should be readily available to any employee, at any time.

Offer competitive wages and good benefits. Opportunities for advancement help keep employees motivated as well. 

Check in with employees that appear to be struggling. See if you can assist them with resources within your company. The more you do to ensure a happy, healthy work environment, the lower the odds of employee theft will be. 

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