Corporate investigation uncovers tricky workplace theft

Unfortunately, corporations sometimes have to deal with situations that border on the criminal or even clearly break the law. Embezzlement, internal theft, kickbacks, industrial espionage and IPR violations are just some of the issues.

In some circumstances the violations are so flagrant that the police are involved immediately. In others, however, corporate investigators are called upon first. This is often because the corporation is not sure exactly what is going on and needs to uncover the facts in a way that respects due process. At the same time, professional investigations can protect the reputation of the company as necessary.

The challenge

A major European transportation and logistics company suspected that something was wrong. Some of their customers found that shipments were incomplete and reported all kinds of goods as missing.

Internal analyses pointed to the fact that all of the short shipments passed through one of the company’s warehouse complexes, so it was reasonable to assume that this was where the goods were disappearing and that internal theft could be the cause.

Turning the case over to the police was not an attractive option. The company had no hard facts, and even if the police were willing to take on such a nebulous affair, it would take them at least six months to resolve it. What is more, the distribution center covered an area that was more than 6000 m2 (about 65,000 square feet), and was frequented by dozens of people throughout the day. Suspecting the culprit might be an employee, management chose to look outside the company for help and at the same time ensure that due process is followed to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.

The solution

AS Solution was called in and immediately began to collect evidence. Within days, covert technical surveillance was set up at various locations in the distribution center. Careful observations soon revealed that one person, in fact a well-paid and widely respected manager was acting suspiciously. The investigative team honed in.

Over the ensuing weeks, the team captured on film more than a dozen instances of the manager stealing goods. They discovered and documented how he had been manipulating the company’s ERP system to alter shipping documents and blur his trail. Utilizing technical observation, the team set out to disclose where he was going with the stolen goods, and to establish how the goods were being sold illegally. They were even able to record how the employee was using drugs in the workplace, and secure evidence of this for eventual use in court.

The result

Within weeks, the team was able to produce a rock-solid collection of evidence against the suspected employee, all gathered in a way that respected the employee’s right to due process and would stand up in court.

Armed with this evidence, the company approached the local police, who then had ample reasons to immediately initiate their own investigations and to obtain a search warrant for the suspect’s home. Here, the case only became stronger: among a truckload of other stolen goods, the soon-to-be ex-manager had amassed a staggering collection of designer jeans, shoes and other items for both personal use and for re-selling.

Of course, the employee was immediately dismissed and duly received his day in court, conviction and sentence. The biggest benefit for the company was the speed and accuracy of the investigation: This not only saved the company considerable amounts of money (the employee had stolen goods worth more than €300,000); it also ensured that justice was served quickly and efficiently, without appeal, and with minimal drama.