Has there been a spate of mysterious disappearances in your workplace, with equipment not accounted for? It can be a very unpleasant thought to imagine that someone who works for you could be responsible, but it can often be the only possible cause and then you have to think about how to catch a thief in the workplace. Accusing employees of theft is not only unpleasant though. It can also lead to serious problems if you confront someone or take disciplinary action without proper proof. As well as causing distrust and a very bad atmosphere in the workplace, it can even lead to legal proceedings taken against you especially if you have the wrong person or you dont have enough evidence to support the accusation.
How tech can help you gather proof
If you suspect that an employee has been stealing, whether equipment, sensitive information or even clients, its vital that you get evidence before taking any action. The best way to do this is with smart tech. Surveillance cameras can keep an eye on your workplace when youre not there. Even if you are in the office, its simply not possible for you to watch every store cupboard and warehouse shelf all of the time. Once installed in key areas, these spy cameras can monitor everything carefully and help you to catch a thief in the workplace and to provide you with evidence of the person or people responsible. To help reviewing the footage easier, you can even get cameras which are motion-activated. This means they use sensors to detect movement and only start filming when something happens. This can be very useful in a quiet corner of your premises, saving you from having to look through hours of footage where nothing happens.
The best places to install spy cameras, and the worst
The obvious place to install cameras is in the area in which the first theft occurred. If you suspect the thief may strike again in the same place, put a camera there to guard the equipment. You should also fit cameras anywhere else that the most valuable equipment is kept, as well as where confidential information and client files are stored.
It can also be a good idea to install cameras at entrances and exits to the building, as well as in areas where customers, visitors and members of the public can access. It could well be the case that it wasnt actually a member of staff responsible for the theft. It could have been an intruder, entering and leaving the building without you knowing about it. Identifying this can save you the potentially disastrous situation of wrongly accusing a valued member of your team. Its also a good way to spot and fix any security weaknesses in your premises. Now for the places where you absolutely shouldnt install surveillance equipment. It is perfectly legal for you to monitor your workplace and your employees provided that you have a proper reason for doing so and that you use and store the footage responsibly. However, it is illegal to place cameras in any space where your employees have a reasonable expectation of privacy. This includes bathrooms, changing rooms and anywhere else that could invade a persons privacy. If you break this vital rule and are found out, you could be prosecuted and the penalties are not insignificant. Itll also destroy any respect and trust you may have built up with your employees. After all, why would any respectable business owner want to film in the bathroom? If its a toilet roll thief you have in your midst, youll have to find another way of finding the culprit.
Wont your employees mind?
The hardest part of the whole process of how to catch a thief in the workplace wont be the installation of surveillance cameras most of the latest devices and systems are very easy to install. No, itll be dealing with your employees. Business owners have a very important decision to make. Do they be upfront and tell their team about the cameras, or do they film in secret? The first option will make everyone aware of the situation and potentially deter further thefts or it could stop you from getting the evidence you need, as the culprit will lie low. To keep quiet is almost definitely likely to cause a bad atmosphere in the workplace, as your employees will feel that you dont trust them if they discover the cameras.
How you deal with the situation is completely up to you, but it is usually a good idea to be upfront with your employees about the cameras. You dont necessarily have to explain why, but you should inform them that youre fitting cameras. You can spin it as a necessary precaution for their own safety and the protection of the business, or you can tell the truth and reveal that there have been thefts and cameras are necessary for the protection of business equipment. It partly comes down to what you want to achieve with the cameras. Do you want to deter further thefts, or are you hell-bent on disciplining or prosecuting the person who committed the first crime?
What to do when you have your proof Success!
Youve reviewed your security footage and discovered a member of staff removing a piece of equipment from the premises without permission. You have hard evidence of who, what, when and where. So, whats the next step? How you handle the situation is again up to you, and your company policies may inform your next step. You can either confront the employee privately and mention that you have video evidence of the incident, warning them that if it happens again you will take serious action. The alternative is to fire the person outright for gross misconduct in the workplace, as youd have every right to do. Which path you take is at your discretion, but either way the thefts will stop and its all thanks to clever surveillance cameras.