thief, dishonesty, question mark, retail, policeRecently we discovered that one of our weekend staff was consuming/eating stock without paying for it. We had been concerned that something had been going on for some weeks, but this particular Sunday we were able to pinpoint the items of stock as they did not appear on our till roll as sales but stock had disappeared. We have several CCTV cameras focused on our counter and were able to identify the particular assistant consuming these products and he also left the evidence of his crime in the rubbish bin that we keep behind the counter.

The Sunday that we discovered the crime was the day before we went on our recent holiday so we spent an hour plus investigating the issue and then put it aside until we returned from holiday. On the next available Sunday when the young man came to work I interviewed him on his arrival and explained that we had evidence of his dishonesty. I showed him the screen shots from our CCTV that indicated the various items of stock that he was either eating or drinking. His initial reaction was that he had simply forgotten to pay for them and was very sorry. I then told him that we had evidence from other weeks because our system holds four weeks recordings and he was doing similar things every week.

I allowed this information to sink in and asked him what he felt I should do about it. He said that he would accept what ever I decided. My wife and I had decided that dismissal for gross misconduct was the correct action on our part. The interview went according to my expectation and the young man left our employment there and then. After the interview I wrote a personal statement as a record of the conversation that we had for our files.

Should I have brought in the police and prosecuted him? Having had three weeks to consider our action we felt that the penalty of the loss of his job and his friends knowing why was sufficient and from the feedback I have received from one or two of his friends he is mortified that he had been so stupid.

We have amongst our customers over 30 retired police officers of various ranks, one of them is a retired sergeant who regularly uses our shop so I asked him if he felt our actions were appropriate. It is comforting to know that he felt our course of action was the correct one.

Over the nearly two years that we had employed him it is difficult to know how much our former employee had stolen from us or when his dishonesty started. It would appear to be in the low hundreds rather than the thousands of pounds. We had no evidence that he stole money and he did assure me that this had not been the case. After more than 30 years in retail management this is the first time I have had to dismiss a member of staff for dishonesty. Let’s hope its the last.