Is there anything I can do about my co-worker who steals? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily
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Is there anything I can do about my co-worker who steals?

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Question: A younger woman (early 20s) is working our switchboard. She has stolen from people before but no one has been able to catch her in the act. (She’s stolen money repeatedly from a co-worker’s purse, and the money was returned once one of the supervisors said he was thinking about calling the police.)

Well, she finally stole something from me that I let her borrow. Nothing too important, but it’s the principle of the matter. She says she has to have it "around here somewhere," although she’s "looked everywhere."

I’ve notified her boss and his boss and even my boss (the president) of the incidents before this current matter. No one is doing anything. I mean, what could they do?

What more should I do, if anything? It makes me so mad that she’s getting away with stealing from people!  -- Shelly


Report it to the police and put it on record. That might scare her into returning it and not doing it again. She obviously has not ever been held accountable for this action, either because she hasn't been caught or people don't confront or turn her in. You will be helping her out by doing this.

Remember a thief is very cunning. The only way to hold her accountable is to report it, EVERY time. She will either change or change jobs. She may have co-workers believing that she is not capable of such a thing and that everyone is picking on her or; she may be a "wonderful" employee then the reporting should move her to seek help. We have an employee assistance program here at work that allows for paid visits for mental health visits, see if something like that is offered by your employeer and if the employee is valuable enough to the company she may be required to attend counseling as a probation. In the meantime, hold her accountable and lock up your valuables.

Wait: You loaned something to her and she misplaced it. How did you get from "she can't find it" to "she stole it"? If you already didn't trust her and your pre-conceived and unshakable judgment of her is that she is a thief, why did you loan it to her in the first place? "She has stolen from people before" but nobody sees her do it (or return it). Sounds like guilty until proven innocent to me. I'm glad I don't work with you! And, yeah. Lock up your valuables so you won't have to accuse anyone of stealing from you again.

If she borrowed it from you and can't find it she should buy you a new one. Give her a week to either find it or replace it.

I don't get it, how can you accuse someone of stealing if you loaned it to her to begin with, even with a history of stealing a person is innocent until proven guilty in the US? I would tell her that if she cannot find it then she will need to replace it. Give her a week and if she does not all you got honey is a civil suit not criminal so you can file against her in small claims, which if she does not have any property to place against it may not be worth it, especially if she already has bad credit.

Your mistake by loaning the office thief something you wanted back. If she does steal in the future without your permission, then report it to the police. But if you reported it for this circumstance you are wasting the policeman's time.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Suzanne November 7, 2016 at 7:07 am

The person who wrote “Your mistake by loaning the office thief something you wanted back”, is totally wrong. Loaning something has nothing to do with whether or not the person has stolen something. You may or may not have known she was a thief…don’t listen to that backward logic. But I do agree with giving her a chance to find it but you need to give you a deadline of when she is required to return it or buy you a replacement for it. She will either replacement it or say she lost but cant replace it. With that response, your response should be to give her a dollar value for the object that she is to pay you. If she does not do that and you know she has a theft issue I would then recommend you inform your supervisory and inform the police and also inform her that is what you will be doing.


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