How Private Investigators Interview to find “Bad Guys”

How many companies with security problems use their own internal resources to investigate employee theft, industrial espionage, etc. ?  I think the answer would probably be; “the majority”. 

HR Departments have traditionally been the ”go to” people within corporations to conduct interviews.  Proprietory security personnel have also been used for these tasks. My question is; “what specialized training or experience have these folks received that equips them for such roles? 

Having conducted interviews totalling in the thousands around the world, I can share with you that it takes many years and probably thousands of hours of interviewing to develop not only a certain comfort level, but the ability to be able to pick up on things like eye movement, breathing, body shifting, hesitation, etc. 

What experienced investigators know is that simply talking to a person and taking notes is not enough.  The interview process begins way before that.  A good investigator will conduct research and prepare questions before the interview ever begins.  They know that there are a number of important factors to consider, such as planning on where the interviewee will sit.  Have you previously considered this?

Some other questions to consider are; “do I know the right questions to ask?”, ”what are the signs of stress?”, “how can I make a person tell me what I need to know?”, “how do I follow-up?”.  Unfortunately, you won’t find all the answers you need in a blog or a book.  It takes time, training and putting that training into practice. 

Corporations should not feel like they have to “do it all”.  In-house security personnel may be quite capable of taking care of many of the day-t0-day security tasks that arise, but they probably should not be asked to conduct investigations involving employee theft, sexual harrassment, workman’s comp, fraud cases etc., where extensive interviewing is needed. 

Credentialed and experienced professionals can not only save a company millions of dollars in lost revenue and or litigation/law suits, but protect their reputation from being tarnished and damaged.  The question then becomes; “what value do you put on your reputation?”. 

Trusted employees caught stealing from employers

The attached article from the Wall Street Journal on employee theft in the workplace is a good reminder that often those who are least suspected of theft are using that to their advantage.

This in itself is nothing new, although some of you who are operating your own security companies may very well come across clients who do not yet realize that this does occur across the board.

Unfortunately, the smaller companies experience the greatest losses. Ironically, they are the least well equipped to take a loss and continue in business – depending on the size of the loss/losses.

Keep in mind that a rise in employee theft could very well be a by-product of this poor economy. The attached article quotes a victim as saying she did not bother doing a background check. That should always be step number 1. A con artist can dress up in a suit and say the right things to get hired. Unfortunately that method often works.

Clients should be careful about how they handle a suspected in-house thief. Tolerating it and hoping that they stop, is not a solution. It might sound silly, but there are employers out there who suspect an employee and have heard rumors for years, but they prefer not to believe it.

The article speaks of the Police conducting an undercover investigation over a $1200 theft. In my experience, it is rare for the Police to get involved in a theft of this amount. Most often, the employer will have to hire a Private Investigation firm and have an undercover investigator conduct the investigation.

Once the evidence has been obtained, it will be up to the employer/business owner if they wish to pursue the matter by reporting the results to the Police or if they use the evidence to get rid of the culprit. As long as a professional investigation has been conducted by a legally registered firm and P.I., the Police can proceed with a prosecution.

Either way, a message has been sent out to the other employees that internal theft will not be tolerated.

Do you have what it takes to be a Private Investigator?

Time is running out for those considering a career as a Private Investigator.
We have had more than 100 people looking to be trained as Private Investigators by Sexton Executive Security.

Those who have been accepted into the program come from throughout Virginia, Maryland, Washington D.C., New York and overseas. Like us, they realize that the field of security offers a level of job security that is next to impossible to find in today’s worsening economic times.

The worse times become, the more theft, embezzlement, employment fraud, workman’s compensation cases will surface. That in turn means more work and more money for trained P.I.s.

I am glad to report that women are finally seeing the great opportunity for them as private investigators. We (and many other companies) have need for Nothern Virginia investigators, Maryland investigators, D.C. investigators and even International investigators.

Unfortunately, if you are thinking of signing up for our last P.I. training course (certified by DCJS)of the year, you will have to settle for having your name placed on the “stand-by” list as the industrious applicants have taken all of the seats already.

It’s a case of “the early bird catches the worm”, or more realistically; “the early to regisiter receives first class training and receives the coveted “SEXTON” stamp of approval!

What should done about employees stealing in the workplace?

Q: I think that an employee may be stealing from my company. I called the Police but they said they needed more proof before they could get involved. They suggested that I contact a private investigation company. How can I find out what’s going on when I am not there to watch?

A: Even though a case may be criminal in nature – such as in the case of an employee stealing, with all of the known and pressing problems that the Police have to handle on a daily basis, they usually do not have the manpower to act on a “hunch” or suspicion.

If it was a case of suspected drug trafficking or gang activity, they probably would be able to dispatch some undercover units since there would be a very real risk of personal injury and/or serious felonies being committed.

When it comes to the private sector, clients really need to take the matter into their own hands in the majority of cases. By “their own hands”, I don’t mean they need to investigate it themselves, but they need to hire a professional investigator with the training, skills, experience and license to deal with the matter.

A carefully chosen private security firm will be able to sit down and advise them on their options. After the initial meeting they should have a good idea of: 1) the costs involved, 2) the time it will take to resolve the matter and 3) how best to deal with their findings – termination of employee, filing criminal charges, initiating a civil suit.

Some time ago we were approached with an identical problem facing a local business owner. He believed one of his senior managers to be stealing materials from the warehouse and selling it to other individuals. The owner had heard stories circulating about the manager’s dishonesty but chose to disregard it for many years. We advised him that we would use different investigators and vehicles to follow the manager around and video tape him where he went and document the addresses.

From day one, our investigators had discovered that the manager would load up his truck with building materials from the warehouse and head out without telling anyone where he was going. Once he arrived at a location, our investigator would call the client and tell him the address while another investigator video taped the transaction at the site. Nearly all of the time – at least 90% of the time, the manager would go to a site that was not one of the employer’s sites. He was taped handing over stolen materials on several occassions. Other times he would have unauthorized persons in his company truck. If they had been hurt in an accident, they most likley would have sued the business owner for having been allowed to be carried in the vehicle.

After two weeks, we had compiled enough information on the manager to show that he was involved in a company on the side with members of his family that were known to the employer upon viewing the video. Just on one transaction alone, we discovered that the employee had managed to steal a $45,000.00 dollar contract that should have been handled by his employer’s company. A conservative estimate of the employee’s thieving over the years amounted to in excess of $1,000,000.00.

Even though our client’s main goal at the beginning of the investigation was to fire the manager if he turned out to be a thief, he was so disturbed by what he discovered that he asked us to work with the authorities to prosecute him. Our investigators took the final report with their findings along with the video to the prosecutor and in a couple of short weeks the Police had obtained warrants for grand larceny and had brought the manager to trial as a defendant. Based on the evidence obtained by our investigators, he plead guilty and received a jail sentence.

Not all clients will want to go to that extent and many have no intentions of prosecuting an employee. It is still a good idea to pursue a dishonest employee and gather evidence that they are stealing or conducting illegal activities on the company property. The benefits of such an investigation are many. If an employee is conducting an illegal activity such as using or trafficking in drugs, they may be directly responsible for an accident in the work place that could not only injure themselves but an innocent co-worker.

Since the employer has a duty to provide a safe work place for his/her employees, looking the other way or hoping that nothing happens could lead to a devastating law suit that might put the owner out of business and lead to the loss of jobs for every one there. If the situation persists and the local police get to hear about the problem, then they will take the matter into their own hands.

Screeching car loads of Police officers jumping out in front of your building with blue lights flashing and sirens blazing will not leave a good impression on your clients. Nor will seeing staff being led out in handcuffs make them feel confident about doing business with you in the future.

It would be far better to have the matter dealt with by a private company who could send in an undercover investigator to gather evidence and if it turned out that there was such illegal activity going on, those involved could be given the option of resigning or having the matter turned over to the police. It has been our experience that they prefer the option of walking away from their job rather than being driven away in the back of a Police cruiser.

One should also consider some of the other benefits involving the uncovering of employee problems and dealing with them in a firm manner. In the case of the thieving manager, we found out from talking with and interviewing other staff members that he had actually boasted about some of the things that he was doing. He became so conceited that others were beginning to fear him or worse still, admire him for his actions.

When it finally became known that the owner had hired investigators to find out the truth and then had personal protection specialists escort the disgraced manager off of the property, the other employees realized that the owner meant business. There was little chance that anyone there would be imitating the convicted felon any time soon. The owner could finally concentrate on making the company profitable and making sure that his employees had a stable future.