Conducting an Investigation on Workplace Theft: The Proper Steps to Follow

We don’t like to think about it, but it happens from time to time: theft in the workplace. Someone could have stolen from the company or from another employee – but in any case, it is illegal, and must be investigated. It’s one of the most stressful tasks an HR officer or employee can be confronted with, because nobody enjoys calling another person a thief or a liar.

Luckily, experience and expert studies have formulated a framework which makes such procedures much easier. By following certain guidelines, an investigation can be conducted in a professional and systematic manner. Here’s all about conducting an investigation of workplace theft: the proper steps to follow.

Select an investigator

Not everybody can conduct an investigation; some people are simply inappropriate as there may be conflicts of interest. If at all possible, choose a person whom you are sure has nothing to do with the case, yet who can bring particular authority due to experience or knowledge, depending on the circumstances.

Start immediately

Don’t waste your time – people’s memories can fade after some time, and people’s opinions are easily influenced. Furthermore, you need to show the staff and the employees that such things are taken seriously, and that no time will be wasted.

Gather the facts

Start with what you know, and write down a plan of getting all the information you need to bring the investigation to a satisfactory conclusion. Write down your questions and possible ways of attaining answers.

Maintain decorum and confidentiality

Be professional – remain polite, especially to those who might be the subject of the investigation – and ensure confidentiality at all times. You don’t want to lose the trust of the team and the staff.


Inform the subject of the interview and about the reasons for the interview and what you are hoping to accomplish. If necessary, inform them of how they can seek their own counsel or advice. Assure them of confidentiality and never be confrontational.


Once you have gathered all the facts, write it down in a report in an orderly fashion. Be sure to include all signed statements and other evidence. It is important to make sure the report is accurate, so have it recorded. You can then have the recording transcribed by a legal transcription service. Seeking help from experienced legal transcription professionals also allow you to present court-ready documents if necessary.

After all the facts and the evidence have been gathered, it’s time to make a decision about how to handle the situation further and what action should be taken against the employee. The faster the action is taken, the easier it will be – but be sure you understand all the facts and that you follow the law. There is too much at stake, and serious matters need to be handled with professionalism.