Person's hand discreetly taking a small device from the back pocket of another person's jeans.

Theft in the workplace can be a very tricky situation to deal with. On the one hand, business owners will want to limit losses, get to the bottom of what's happening and punish wrongdoers. However, you must also tread incredibly carefully to avoid creating an atmosphere of distrust in the workplace, accusing the wrong people and perhaps even falling foul of workplace law. The following are some practical tips to help you deal with theft in the workplace and, ideally, prevent it from happening in the first place.

Review your Policies and Procedures

This is an excellent place to start. Your business needs watertight policies for dealing with employee theft, and you must ensure that your employees are well aware of them. Processes and procedures that are written down before anything may happen to help you remove the emotional element from the situation, so you can act by the book and avoid any claims of discrimination or mistreatment of employees.

Start by letting your employees know that theft of any kind will not be tolerated within your business, and then put procedures in place for what happens after you discover an instance of theft. This will involve steps such as gathering evidence, questioning witnesses and perhaps even getting the police involved, all the way to written warnings and dismissing employees if they are caught stealing.

Conduct regular audit

This is another part of your policies and procedures, but this time to identify when a theft has happened. Employee theft can take many forms and be difficult to detect, so you must keep on top by conducting regular stock audits and checking bank accounts and other systems to account for all property accurately.

Use cameras carefully to Gather vital evidence

Surveillance cameras can be a big help in preventing and detecting employee theft. Having them in place in areas where goods or property need to be protected, and ensuring they are highly visible, can be a strong deterrent to would-be thieves. Installing cameras after you suspect theft can be a trickier business because you don't want employees to feel that you don't trust them or end up invading anyones privacy.

There are two ways to proceed; the first option involves being open and honest about it. Hold a meeting with your whole team and say that. Unfortunately, you suspect someone is stealing, and you've had to install surveillance cameras in a particular area. This will almost certainly prevent further theft, but you may not be able to record evidence of the original perpetrator, leaving you with the knowledge that a thief remains in your employ but cannot prove it.

The second option is to conceal a camera out of sight at the crime scene, allowing you to record hard evidence of the theft with which to confront the employee and follow your established procedures for dismissal.