How to stem the rising tide of staff and public theft and fraud cases

My newsfeed this morning included examples of cases where employees had stolen from their employers. When such matters come to light, as well dealing with the resulting HR issues and the Police in relation to any charges brought against the employee and subsequent criminal court proceedings, what can the employer do to minimise their losses and to send out a message to their employees and customers that such behaviour will not be tolerated and will have a number of consequences, not only to punish the offender but to compensate the company for its losses?

Where a thief is brought before the Magistrates Court as a result of the stealing from a company, whether the company is their employer or they are a customer, there is no guarantee that the compensation awarded by the Magistrates will be sufficient to cover the company’s losses not only in terms of the item stolen but also to compensate for the time lost by other employees and company officials in dealing with the offender in terms of detection, apprehension, investigation, administration, management, legal process and attendances by the Police and Court appearances.

The first example that came to my attention, was that of a sales assistant working at Russell and Bromley, a high end shoe retailer’s flagship Oxford Street store in London who walked home in 26 pairs of expensive shoes, worth several thousands of pounds, which she had stolen over a period of 6 months and subsequently went on to sell them online. Fortunately, staff subsequently noticed a large amount of their stock online and realised that they had a thief in their midst. The offender was called into a meeting and initially denied any wrongdoing but subsequently admitted to the crimes. The sentence handed down to this offender was non-custodial and as far as I am aware no compensation was awarded to the company.

As well as dealing with such an offender through the criminal courts, there is no reason why the company should not seek to be compensated by way of a civil claim for compensation by instructing specialist civil recovery solicitors such as DWF who specialise in dealing with such claims. As far as I am aware there are only a few firms who specialise in dealing with such claims. Although the bulk of civil recovery claims are in respect of members of the public shoplifting, employees stealing stock is another common theme and by having and promoting a civil recovery scheme, the company can highlight to potential offenders the risk and consequences of stealing from the company. This should act as a deterrent as well as to serve as a way of compensating the company for such losses.

The second example demonstrates that this is an issue that can affect all sectors of commerce and industry and particularly those carrying stock as in goods as well as those where staff are handling cash or applying loyalty card scheme points to customer loyalty cards.

This particular case arose in the banking sector in Birmingham where a consultant employed by the bank is alleged to have carried out a fraud worth the best part of half a million pounds, by taking money from customer accounts for his own gain. This particular case is ongoing and the Defendant has pleaded not guilty. If he is found to be guilty and in sentencing the Court does not make any provision to compensate the bank or in the absence of a Proceeds of Crime Act Order to recover any funds or assets obtained as a result of such a crime, civil recovery may be a way by the bank of seeking to recover their losses.

In the banking sector, more minor offences occur where, for example, a cashier’s draw may hold funds over and above the balance expected, which might lead someone dishonest to take the excess for their own benefit. This is certainly another example of where a civil recovery scheme could help to prevent such losses as well as to serve to compensate the bank for any losses caused by other staff having to investigate and deal with such matters.

Such issues do arise more often in some sectors more than others and retail and banking appear to be two obviously affected by this. However, we also act for clients in the hospitality, logistics and other sectors where staff and public theft is also a problem and civil recovery is the solution.

Neil Jinks, a Director of DWF Recoveries said “As a sales assistant, just because your cash register is over by £10, does not mean that it’s your £10 and you can take it home with you. Likewise, as a warehouseman, just because someone has loaded 11 TV’s on to the back of a lorry rather than 10, does not mean that you are entitled to keep the extra one.”

“Even someone stealing sweets from the pick and mix stand or taking an apple from the display is stealing and when you multiply the cost of even small items by the number of these offences taking place nationwide, it can mean that a business can be losing significant sums over time. The DWF Civil Recovery product serves to make potential offenders think twice to minimise your losses as well as to compensate you when such offences are detected.”

Neil continued: “As well as demonstrating an abuse of trust by an employee or a member of the public, this also affects your bottom line and ultimately your financial performance and results.”

“DWF can help you to maintain your profit margins and add to your bottom line by ensuring that the effect of such losses is kept to a minimum. As the market leader in civil recovery, with cutting edge technology and our skill in preserving your good name through reputational risk management, in my view, using civil recovery is a no brainer.”

To find out more details about our civil recovery scheme please contact Neil Jinks»

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This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.

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Neil Jinks


I am a Director within the recoveries team at DWF. I have over 25 years of experience working in law firms, the credit industry and High Court enforcement sector, managing and developing debt recovery operations and client relationships.

Kevin Feehan


I deal with all types of money and asset recovery for clients in a variety of sectors including financial institutions, retailers, insurers, commercial clients, local and central government.

David Scottow

Director - National Head of Recoveries

I am a Senior Director and National Head of Recoveries with almost 40 years’ experience in debt litigation, insolvency and credit management..