What Do You Do If You See a Co-Worker Stealing?

by Ron White, Demand Media
    Theft at work brings issues for co-workers.

    Theft at work brings issues for co-workers.

    When employees steal from their employers, they do more than break workplace rules. They also break laws, and they put all of the company’s workers in jeopardy. Workplace theft can put a company in dire financial straits. Employees face many difficult decisions when they spot a co-worker stealing. Understanding how to respond can make it much easier to deal with theft by a fellow employee.

    Reporting Infractions to Supervisors

    The simplest way to deal with a co-worker who steals is to arrange a private meeting with a supervisor. You can tell the supervisor what you witnessed and allow the supervisor to handle the matter. Reporting to a supervisor, though, can have some drawbacks. In some instances, supervisors may be on friendly terms with the co-worker who is stealing. The supervisor might cover up the theft or simply ignore your report. In some instances, the supervisor may be involved in the theft. The supervisor might try to terminate your employment or threaten you in some way.

    Contacting Human Resources

    The human resources department generally has less interaction with employees. Therefore, contacting the human resources manager may ensure that action is taken when someone reports a co-worker for theft. Additionally, the human resources manager could provide greater protection of anonymity. The downside is that the human resources department is more likely to take swift and complete action. The offending employee is likely to be terminated, and the human resources manager might also contact authorities and ask you to serve as a witness in a criminal case against the employee.

    Contacting Authorities

    In some instances, a co-worker may be involved in a wider conspiracy. For example, an employee may sell stolen items and share the profits with other employees. The owner of the company also might be stealing funds or products. In such instances, an employee’s best option might be to report the theft to local authorities. This is sometimes necessary to ensure that you are not accused of being in collusion with the offenders. If you opt to say nothing about embezzlement by a boss, authorities could charge you with aiding the theft.

    Confronting a Co-Worker

    It is never wise to confront a co-worker about theft. A co-worker may take drastic measures to cover his tracks, and this could include sabotaging you. The person might spread rumors about you or otherwise try to ensure that your employment is terminated. Some co-workers also could lash out in anger and threaten physical violence in or out of the workplace. In some instances, the co-worker may ask you to keep quiet about the theft. Be wary of making promises that could make you an accomplice.

    About the Author

    Based in Central Florida, Ron White is a freelance journalist and stay-at-home dad. A former editor at a Central Florida daily newspaper, White now writes frequently for the "Daytona Beach News-Journal" and "Orlando Sentinel." He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University.

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