Estimated reading time: 2 mins
You’ve discovered a crime in your midst – a colleague has stolen from your employer. Should you report it?
Theft from a company by an employee tends to leave a trail. Such as:
- Frequent cash balance/petty cash discrepancies
- Missing stock/inventory
- Tools, equipment and stationery disappear, often over a period of time
- Changes in employee behavior, or spending patterns (they ‘flash the cash’)
- Complaints from other employees about missing items from their cube, drawers, lockers etc
When you discover a theft, and the perpetrator, you have a duty to report it. An outright confrontation with the employee is not advisable – this is best handled by the appropriate authorities inside your organization, and possibly by the police.
Here are ten reasons why you really should do just that:
- Because it is illegal – theft from an employer is a crime, no matter how you try to look at it. ‘Redistribution of profit’ and other excuses don’t hide the fact that the theft is against the law.
- Because it could come back on you – by not reporting it, you are an indirect accomplice. Pretty sure you don’t want to be one of those.
- Because it costs your employer – reducing operating profit. This puts pressure on your employer to reduce costs in other areas, which could include staffing. Worse case, you lose your job as a result.
- Because it costs your customers – your employer will, no doubt, pass some of this loss onto its customers, meaning higher prices at the checkout. Your customers pay more. In turn, this makes your employer less competitive.
- Because it can cost YOU – less profit for your employer, as a result of theft, is very likely to result in cost savings to be sought from providing fewer employee benefits and lower wages. Your colleague is stealing from your pocket, too.
- Because it causes an uneasy environment – rife with suspicion and gossip. Productivity can be affected and the workplace has the air of uncongeniality.
- Because somebody else could be blamed – if the theft is recognized, then there could be an investigation. The wrong conclusion could be drawn, and blameless colleagues are put in the firing line. Or it could even be you.
- Because it will be best for your conscience – not reporting it will most probably nag at your conscience, for a long time. You don’t want sleepless nights, do you?
- Because your colleague will continue to steal – if your colleague gets away with this crime, its likely that they will do it again, and again. It will probably escalate each time, too. The scale of the thefts will grow, as will the loss to your employer, to your customers, and to you. The punishment for the crime, if your colleague is caught, will also grow and could result in a jail sentence. Best to nip it in the bud now.
- Because it is the right thing to do – you have a moral, ethical and procedural necessity to report it. Need I say more?