Theft by staff

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Is it a criminal offence to take a pen from work? Can you make 1,000 copies at work for the local sports club without asking?

I get these kinds of questions on a regular basis, also in radio interviews, for example. The answer is not always that simple. A lot depends on agreements made within a company, but those agreements are actually always an extension of what applies in principle: you stay away. Don't touch other people's stuff. Taking something without permission is theft (or embezzlement).

In the past 20 years, I have investigated countless cases of theft by own staff or theft by others in which own staff proved to have a facilitating role. By making a proper inventory and analysing the available information responsibly and carefully, a plan of approach for an investigation can be drawn up. Using various elements, this investigation can be built up and carried out, always bearing in mind that proportionality and subsidiarity play a role. Simply put, the least severe and intrusive means should be used to achieve the maximum result (finding out the truth). This means that it cannot be a matter of course to proceed with the installation of 'hidden cameras', for example. Covert camera surveillance is a heavy tool, and before proceeding to do so, a number of important issues must be considered. For example, one should first examine whether other (less intrusive) investigation methods could also lead to more clarity. A camera protocol must also be present within a company or organisation.

When an investigation into the disappearance of money or goods has provided sufficient evidence for the involvement of one or more employees of a company or organisation, an interview with the person(s) involved is an essential part of the investigation. It goes without saying that the person(s) involved has the right to an explanation of the investigation and the results, but also the right to be heard.

If there is a gut feeling that points to internal theft, do not hesitate to ask for advice. An intake interview is always free of charge and non-binding.

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