Wrongfully Accused of Stealing!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about falsely accused of stealing:

Two weeks ago I came home from work and about 10 minutes later my boss calls me. He asked me if I saw a money order on the counter. I told him “Yeah, I saw it and it was on the clipboard and I moved the CLIPBOARD to the other side of the counter so no one would take it.” He said OK and hung up the phone.

Today, I go to pick up my check and he calls me into the office and starts telling me about another employee. He said “Last week, I caught an employee stealing a pop”. I said “OK?” Then he goes on about how when he caught him he was more mad that he lied about it. I finally asked “You are telling me this, WHY?” He tells me that they caught me on camera stealing the money order. I WAS LIVID. I immediately start crying and screaming at this man. I have NEVER stolen anything from anyone. He tells me to tell the truth. I tell him I AM. I tell him the same thing I told him 2 weeks ago. It may have looked like I moved it, but I never took ANYTHING off that clipboard. Please help me in the next step.

Signed, Angry and Confused

Dear Angry and Confused:

It sounds as though you and your boss don’t get along very well anyway and this adds one more thing to that problem. If the two of you had a good working relationship the whole situation would have probably been handled differently from the very beginning. Now, it will be difficult to work it out in a helpful way, so you will need to do your best to have an unemotional and logical approach to the situation.

Call your boss or talk to him and tell him you were hurt and angry that he accused you of something you would never do, but that you understand he probably is worried about losing the money. Don’t waste your time protesting that you have never stolen from anyone–that’s what everyone who steals says! Just say that you did not take the money order, so you know it is either in the store still, was put in the bank or someone else took it.

Offer to help in any way he would like, including making a full statement to the police if he wants to file a police report about it. Also, mention these things:

1. If it was a money order and the person who gave it to your employer has the receipt, it can be traced. So, if he thinks it has been stolen he should notify the person who gave it to him and have that person find out who cashed it.

2. Ask him to look at the video carefully before he does anything else, to see if he really believes it shows you taking the money order. Ask him if he continued to watch the video to see if anyone else came in and touched the clipboard. Offer to watch the rest of the tapes to see what happens with the clipboard and the money order.If it was on camera, the person taking it WILL be on the camera at some point and you’ll see him or her take the money order. It may take you a lot of hours of watching, but it would be worth it if you could show him the culprit.

3. Offer to check the area thoroughly to see if the money order fell or was placed somewhere else.

4. Ask him if he has talked to other employees to see if they might have put the money order away to keep it from being stolen and they forgot to tell him about it.

5. Finally, tell him that you can’t prove you did not take the money order, but you can point to your good work history there to show that you are a dependable person–and that you would not jeopardize it for the amount of the money order. (He may not believe that or care, but that is at least something for him to consider.) If you didn’t take it, there is no evidence that you did, so it becomes a matter of what he wants to believe and what he thinks is being shown as he sees you with the clipboard containing the money order. (If he even has a video like that.)It sounds like a rather unpleasant place to work anyway, so it may be that you will be better off elsewhere. You just don’t want to leave in a bad situation like this.Keep a practical, logical approach and try to take your emotions out of it. They will make you seem guilty or trying to distract attention, rather than making you seem innocent of wrongdoing. Don’t let it be left unresolved, either. Push him to do everything he can to find out who took the money order and offer to help.One thing is for sure…either it fell to the floor or was placed somewhere nearby, was put in the bank or someone took it. If someone took it, it will be on the camera and you and your boss will be able to identify the thief.Best wishes in this worrisome situation. Please let us know what happens with it, if you have the time.

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.