Bank Teller’s Cash Missing

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about missing money:

Hello, My sister is a bank teller, and went to training for a week. When she returned, a large amount of cash was missing from her drawer. She told her boss, and they are investigating. However, she may be fired (or worse) — though they have no proof she took it, she’s still ‘responsible’ for it. Coworkers supposedly don’t have both combinations but that’s not for sure. Also, her boss never counted her drawer before she left for a week. (He never does, but it may be company policy). They may give lie detectors to all employees, so we are assuming my sister will then be ok. However, I’m concerned that the company may just blame her, and so the lie detector may somehow come out against her (or the real thief may pass it). She can’t afford a lawyer … should she get one now or wait and see what happens with the lie detectors? She hasn’t been ‘accused’ formally, and hopefully the real thief will come out. I just don’t want her entire career to be ruined by someone else’s illegal actions. Thank you.

Signed, Worried

Dear Worried:

When a crime occurs in a workplace there are two aspects to consider: The possible criminal charges and the organizational response. Even if there is not enough evidence to support a criminal charge, it is possible that an employee could be fired for violating an internal policy, or because there is doubt about his or her honesty. Either way, I’m sure your sister is very concerned. Hopefully your sisters’ work history and immediate reporting of the situation will help her in this situation.The bank has investigators who are apparently conducting an investigation prior to deciding if they should make a police report. If such report had been made, the police would be involved already. However, without evidence of a specific person’s involvement, it is very doubtful that charges could be filed against anyone. Sadly, that still wouldn’t protect your sister from organizational action, if there were violations of policy. Your sister should keep in mind that although the bank investigators are probably trying to do a fair and professional job, they don’t have the same restrictions as law enforcement investigators would. So, I would recommend a consultation with an attorney to get preliminary advice about taking a polygraph or what statements she should make, and when she can say stop.

If the police are involved and she is a suspect or thinks she might be a suspect, she absolutely should get an attorney before she does or says anything. I realize cost is a factor, but it would be worth it if it protected her from problems. For example, many people who are not familiar with the legal system end up inadvertently saying things that make them sound very guilty. The police will not purposely do something to hinder finding the truth, but it will be helpful for your sister to understand her rights in this matter.In the meantime, if she hasn’t already, your sister should write out a complete time-line, from the time she last saw the money until she realized it was missing. Make it easy for investigators to review the video records and find the portion that show the last time she handled the money.I’m sure this is very unnerving. Hopefully any rules violations are on the part of her boss or someone else, and it is quickly proven that your sister is not involved in any wrong doing. Best wishes. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

UPDATE: Thank you Tina, I wasn’t expecting a response, certainly not such a nice one. We have gotten advice from an attorney.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.