ROF sages: your opinion please? Could you envisage continuing the employment of someone who has just admitted stealing £5000 from you in the following circumstances?

I get a call from one of my store managers this morning. After a very long shaggy dog story he contritely fronts up to taking £5k after an audit suggested this level of discrepancy which we had asked him to explain.

This particular store is very much sui generis, and I only took it on last October. He had previously managed it himself and his particular expertise (if I were to forgive his stupidity) is a major asset to the business, and one of the reasons I took on the business which is viable and really interesting and beginning to thrive, and a useful tangent to what I do extensively elsewhere.

He is respectably paid for what he does and what the business generates by comparison to others in a similar role. I knew he had money issues before employing him, but didn't imagine for one moment he would steal (or borrow planning to put it back as he described it).

He is a bit of bumbler and maybe his money issues are deeper than I was led to believe. There are idiot thieves and there are career thieves. IMHO he is the former. I don't think he would do this again and he absolutely needs this job.

Without him the business would not be viable. I have an imminent break clause in the lease which I could action and whilst it would be a big headache I could close this down now, albeit much of the stock there could not go to any of my other locations and I would probably have to auction it and take a bit of a caning.

I have told him I want to hear his proposals before deciding what I do, and I am going to see him tomorrow to discuss this further once I have slept on it.

How would you handle this? Does every breach of trust inevitably have to be dealt with by cutting ties?

I don't think he would do this again and he absolutely needs this job.


Without him the business would not be viable. I have an imminent break clause in the lease which I could action and whilst it would be a big headache I could close this down now, albeit much of the stock there could not go to any of my other locations and I would probably have to auction it and take a bit of a caning.

= final warning and keep close eye on him

I know others will say that's weak but you're the only one who has spoken to this guy and can make the kind of judgment calls about his motives, his degree of contrition, whether you see a realistic risk of him doing this again.  

I've seen this happen before.

You need to change your cash handling guidelines, particularly in terms of cashing up at the end of the day.  Banking should be done by two people and signed off by both.  (kept in a safe with two keys to prevent one or other having access without others knowing).

How you handle him is up to you but if the underlying cash problem is due to gambling or another addiction, you might want to look carefully at that. 

If you keep him, you stand a good chance of recovering the money but deliver a stern final warning and start looking for a replacement (someone junior you can promote to replace him). 

I’d give him a second chance after making it very clear that it’s last chance and explaining that as a consequence of what he’s done money handling/accounting procedures are going to have to change (i.e. what others have said above). I really would keep a close eye - for all you know he’s got some very nasty drug dealer/loan shark threatening to cut his toes off if he doesn’t repay X by Y. sure I’ve watched some real crime thing where a bloke got into bank robbing (despite having an established and respectable life) because some very nasty drug dealers turned up and advised him that he’d “inherited” a big debt from his wayward brother who’d unexpectedly died before repayment….

Really appreciate the input folks, thanks all. More welcome.

Guy he has a significant specialist knowledge that would be very difficult to replace, and is also very well known to the existing customer base and knows their specialist interests.

I dont think gambling or similar is behind this but agree that would be all deals off. I think it is a lady friend of his who has several horses she can't afford to feed as she is out of work. How she feeds them after today is moot.

Gorlami where did you find that picture of me?


Yes, sadly I wasted enough of my life reading your entire post.

The world is littered with marks and mugs who believe thieves, addicts, domestic abusers "won't do it again".

Once the theft line is crossed, if you overlook it you're a mug.

You're already a mug for allowing a business to be entirely dependent on such a seemingly chaotic person, but you'll be a double-mug if you let him back to do it again.

It might have something to do with horses and/or a lady friend Prodders, but please don;t let yourself get mugged off. 

Ask him to hand over his phone, unlocked and with no warning so you can check for gambling apps and messages between him and his lady friend with the hungry pony that he needs to feed.

A tenner says he won't let you look.

Thank you Occam, all very valid.

Shame you didn't spend more time acquainting yourself with the background on yesterday's post of yours, but glad you've been more thorough today. Real improvement, well done.

I like that approach RR, thank you.

I have just called his bluff on something else on which he is currently silent. It may be that this prompts him to resign before we meet tomorrow, but then again......................

on the basis you use Latin in a post on a internet forum it is just a shame he didn't nick more


the obvious (and only real) answer is to tell him you want his resignation and return of the money within 24 hours or you will call the police

I would likely fire him due to the complete breakdown of my trust in him. But I would probably not report him to the police nor refuse to supply a basic factual employment reference.

PS - would anyone else lose their job if you decide to fire this guy?  You said that the business isn't viable without him (which indicates store closure) so if there are other staff, what would happen to them?

Thank you Occam, all very valid.

Shame you didn't spend more time acquainting yourself with the background on yesterday's post of yours, but glad you've been more thorough today. Real improvement, well done.

As I explained, I revisited a post about a policeman videoed telling someone they couldn’t cross a road because they had a particular protected characteristic.

I revisited it after a weekend away and having consumed no news, or visited ROF.  When asked whether “it was a resignation issue” I answered no but I think the copper should receive training.  The fact that I was unaware the Police Commissioner had been pressured to resign was entirely irrelevant to any of the points I made on the thread, before or after you incorrectly asserted you having a protected characteristic somehow made your view either more right and relevant than mine.

YWTF - good to see someone who can see why the Timpson model is such a failure…..

Not at all.  I think the Timpson model is excellent.  The employer and the employee both understand the employee’s past crime(s), and enter into she relationship willingly.  It isn’t Timpson’s trust and confidence that has been fatally undermined by their previous crime(s), because they had no relationship when they committed it.

SDYSS that's exactly why I wanted to bat this around with a variety of voices. The obvious default isn't always the right answer. There but for.............. Too simple to just chuck this away without brainstorming a solution.

If he goes either because he resigns, which he has offered to do, and may yet do whatever I decide, or because I fire him, I will almost certainly have to close this venture. That's a headache I could do without if avoidable, never mind the despatch of something very unusual as a business which I find really interesting and already profitable despite his actions.

There's that too Gorlami, two full time people at least, one a single mother and another solid guy but neither of whom can step into his shoes, though both much better administrators than him.

Is there any way you can retain him but change the role so  he has zero access to, or control over the money? 

And is there any risk that he has been ripping off customers as well? 

I know if someone who worked a retail job just so they could access customer card details and do after hours credit card fraud. 

Any chance he could be doing that as well? 


If he stays, that's a given Scylla. 

I am still waiting for his response to something else he might have done and that could make retaining him a non starter, as it may be too duplicitous.

Occam, I will try to come back to you on yesterday's post on that thread. Whilst you and I joust on here, I would be the first to say that I consider you entirely well intentioned and if I had an employment or similar matter I have no doubt you would be an outstanding solicitor. No sleight or slant, just a compliment. I wont be smart arsed in what I say and I hope you will give it the same consideration if you choose to reply. My point yesterday was broader than you I think appreciated. 

I wouldn't buy the horse story.  Addicts are really good at spinning a tale to cover up.  If he is an addict, he's been getting away with it for longer than you think.

RR's phone ploy might determine that Eddie. 

The only reason I give it any credence is that he discussed this lady friend when we first discussed this before I took him on last summer, and he implied some financial support that he felt morally obliged to assist her with.

Your head says can’t trust him but your heart says give him another go. 

A bit like domestic abusers or cheats, it’s  likely that it won’t be a one off. Esp given he gave you a “shaggy dog story”. My view is that he should be out and that for now you won’t report to the Police but reserve the right to at a later date if necessary.  

If he needed the money he should have asked for a loan or a payrise etc. you don’t just nick from your company. 

He’s unlikely to do it again. 

heh...there are some incredibly naive people on here.  once you deduct money off his salary to claw back, he will be even worse off and will steal to make up the offet


What business is this btw?  don't claim you can't/won't tell us - give us the full story and tell us what it is.

OK sah I won't report it to the police for now but reserve all my rights...OK pal


3 months later - officer I wish to report a theft - when did it happen - 3 months Ok - righto sir we'll add it to the list - but i did reserve my rights officer LOLOL

I think so long as you can control the damage he could do and be ready to get rid of him is he steps out of line again, then it’s up to you whether you want to have faith in him to be better or consider him a lost cause.  Personally I like to think we can better ourselves as humans so would probably give him another go.  

I know a woman who was semi credibly accused of stealing £16k from her employer.  The difficulty was that they could see her on CCTV handing a cash bag over to G4S, however when they auditors looked there was no money banked that day.  

She was suspended from work on full pay whilst they conducted their investigations.  It dragged on for over a year when she decided to get a lawyer involved.  After two years of suspension on full pay, they evenutally paid her off to leave.  

When I talked to her about it, she was adamant with me that she didn't steal it... I knew her quite well at that time and know she had a drink and drugs problem so I'm pretty sure she did nick it.

it’s better to be a bit of a sucker- indeed we better ourselves and the subject by giving him another go. point taken to a degree on timpson but the fact that the previous breach of trust was someone else doesn’t change the principle? if the leopard isn’t going to change its spots its not going to change its spots. practically I’m not saying no consequences- I’d do some due dil on him and why he stole plus implement changes to control of money so that he couldn’t nick much if he came over all light fingered again. 

Interested to know whether there is a third choice (especially considering this isn’t your only concern over his honesty). Give him the boot, keep the shop and either promote one of the others up or get another person in to replace him. How indispensable is he? Is it worth having a shortish lease extension and gambling it will still be profitable (and protect the other two employees).

Reporting to the police is to be encouraged (you may not be his only victim as Scylla points out) but I understand why you might not want to. We don’t work to recover your funds necessarily and he may be more willing to repay with the threat of a police investigation hanging over him than he would be if you just reported him.

If he genuinely is indispensable I would not extend the lease, fire him and, with huge regret, close the shop. But that’s because I’m a hard-hearted bastard.

My concern with RR’s suggestion (and you’d need Fun Sponge to advise) is that if he refuses you access to his mobile and you sack him, could he sue you for wrongful dismissal? He would claim you only sacked him for refusing you access as that was the deciding factor.

Whatever happens, as many have said above, please make sure that any cash stuff is dealt with by two staff members together.

What happens if you forgive him, extend the lease and he immediately does it again so you have to sack him, who would run the shop then and why can’t they now?

Eddie, I've conducted much of the conversation with him since his phone call on whatsapp and have screenshot all of it. He would have an impossible job going back on what he's admitted and has offered in writing a proposal to pay it all back. It isn't going to reduce the rigour with which I discuss and delve into this tomorrow, but is a feather in his tarnished cap. 

Are you able to give any details of how he stole the money Prodigal (I'm not clear whether this is a skimming money from the till type scenario or paying money from the business' account when he should have been paying suppliers). If its the latter and you can effectively lock him out of the account/get someone else to deal with payments it seems to be lower risk to give him another chance. 

Personally, on balance, I think I would probably fire him for the various reasons others have stated above. Don't envy you having to make the decision. 

If he does go, it may be worth sitting down with the other staff and outlining that you are thinking of closing the business but have until [one week before deadline for service of break notice] to make a decision and would they be willing to try and cover what the thief bloke did between them to see if the business can continue. People are often more capable than they are given credit for when circumstances require them to be. 

Prodigal, I may not have been clear enough.  The screenshots are a good idea but what I mean is that if you decide you are keeping him, you need to keep a record of what happened and what the next steps are.  It should be clear that any repitition would mean instant dismissal and / or prosecution.

You need to ensure that if you do dismiss him in a few months, he can't deny or claim to have no recollection of the discussions over the next couple of days, just in case he thinks he'll get money out of you at tribunal.

I would be inclined to give him a second shot but change procedures and account mandates so that he can't sign off any payments single handed and needs someone else like you to approve them.

I asked him to calculate the figure he acknowledges and it is actually somewhat more than we calculated on the basis of his slightly incomplete paperwork, so he isn't trying to slide out of it, the opposite. 

The issue on which I called his bluff is not further cause for concern. He had no hesitation on my going through it with him.

He was behind with his cash banking, and when I insisted this be brought up to date, the cash he had in the safe was well down on where we thought it to be. He coughed to it this morning without any threats or further investigation by phoning me to come clean.

If you think he's being honest.  Give him that second chance.  He'll have to pay you back though, don't let him squirm out of that.  But still, get it in writing what the consequences of a repeat will be.

something very unusual as a business which I find really interesting and already profitable despite his actions.

Guess you'll need to do the math as to whether potential future profit is worth the hassle of dealing with him, and if so, proceed (with caution, as advised above, but as a canny businessman I'm sure you will in any event).  

Prodders, I think it comes down to how clean the slate can be.  We all stumble.

If he can be scaffolded with the admin by the other two, then that is a big factor.

And I would switch it around: the £5k can be earned as a bonus against an increase in targets. A bonus pool for all three (the other two for stepping up and covering the money/admin aspects).  £5k to keep three people employed and to give wider business resilience seems like an investment which may well be worth making.

Well I've spent the last 15 minutes re-reading this and stewing on the conundrum, before I leave to meet up and further inform my thinking.

My in laws are staying at the moment and we discussed this with my wife (who has met him and liked him) and they all concluded that on balance I should probably keep him, which was also on balance my likely 'preference', all things considered. I'm still undecided and probably wont decide today. Could really have done without this.

If it were easy, everyone would be doing it............

I've never know such deliberation over what would be a simple decision for most successful business people

also, why won't you reveal the circumstances or the type of business it is?

I am going to predict you're not going to make much from this business. especially if your non-exec advisors are your wife and in-laws

Have you ever personally made a decision like this Ego and conveyed it to the person losing his/her livelihood? And it’s not just one person’s job - it impacts several others including PS who will suffer incidental losses associated with closure of the business.

I totally get why PS is weighing it carefully. He strikes me as a very decent person who has the emotional intelligence to appreciate that people make mistakes and that, in some cases, they maydeserve a second chance. Or at the very least, that it’s not going to sit well with him if other people have to bear the consequences of this person’s mistake.

Ego I spent 10 years working in the criminal courts. Some of that was with complete wasters. Some with people I was glad to have assisted. Hopefully a few whose lives were at turning points. Some who’d never put a foot wrong until their trip to court. 

My decision may put this man on the scrap heap. It will impact two others significantly. You think that’s a no brainer. And that’s where we’re different. 

I would get rid. sounds as though there will be a heap of hassle in the short term but in my view that's usually better pain than having to worry constantly about a dishonest person.


and maybe you should make the operational change even if you get rid of him



well yes Gorlami I've run a business employing 50+ people on minimum wage.  so simple answer to your question is yes.  I hope he gives this guy a second chance now.

Before you make any decisions, have the finances fully audited. There may be more discrepancies than he has admitted and you need to get the full picture. (This is based on my own personal experience when my line manager turned out to have cooked the books to fund her drugs habit and actually got caught through quite a small discrepancy.)

There’s clearly a risk there has been more but there may not be time / resource for a full audit first.  In fact you could keep him on, do an audit at a more reasonable pace and if there are any more discrepancies, raise it then.

That’s a good question for today PS: you could tell him you’re going to do a full audit and tell him he needs to tell you about anything else now….

The kind of fraudsters who never get caught are the ones who spend years taking a little bit here and little bit there.  Taking £5k out of the safe strikes me as the kind of desperation first attempt that hasn't been thought through rather than the culmination of years of cunning planning.

Do you:

1 - trust him to handle cash going forward (even 1 quid);

2 - trust him to deliver his unique skill set exclusively for your business; and

3 - trust him generally. Dig deep for this. Knowing him, having sympathy is not the same as trusting him.  

You can give him last chance or 10 chances or no chances. But answer to those three questions will give you the answer. 

I’m in the get rid camp.  Sad but you can’t trust him with cash now and it’s not practical to keep him on if you don’t.  If you had other shareholders in the business and you were the MD what would you do? Why would you make a different decision just because you’re the only potential victim?

But why not suspend him on pay pending full investigation, see if the others can run the shop or not during that month or whatever, and then at the end you will be much better informed about the viability of your options with regard to all concerned.

I’m waiving the tenner btw RR. And owe you a drink  

He handed me the phone and unlocked it. No apps. 
I asked him to unlock his bank account details. He did. 

He has a very good friend called Fred. Initials BET. He had spent 400£ of my money the day I buried my father. And plenty more. 

I immediately accepted his resignation. 

Phoned landlord. He has agreed to extend the break to Jan 25. I’ll give the two staff a chance to prove themselves. 

Thanks Rofers. Your contributions to my thinking were all appreciated. 


I’m waiving the tenner btw RR. And owe you a drink  

I'll give the tenner to a charity of your choice prodders and we should have rof cricket drinks in the summer. 

Interesting to re-read all this 36 hours later. 

I didn’t really pay any credence to his assurance that he would repay me but very matter of factly picked up on this by text in case. 

He replied saying he was meeting his parents this morning. He has admitted his gambling addiction to them and already enrolled with GA. This was explained to me in a conference type call with his parents who offered to repay me half of his debt which they have now done with an assurance that the rest will be paid monthly over 4 months. 

He is moving back to live under their roof. 
I have said I will give him a candid qualified reference once he has secured employment provided it is not in a position of trust. 

We are trying to hire someone else but I suspect the store will now fail. C’est la vie. It was impossible to retain him in view of the uncontrolled gambling. 
Maybe he will now get it under control. 


yeah, I suspected the gambling quite early on.  If it had been anything other than that, I'd have given him another chance but.. gamblers never seem to learn and are very creative with their excuses.

I'd really love to know what your store sells that is dependent on one guy to succeed.

Funny you should mention that RR, no, but I was trying to upload a picture of a car I parked near to on the weekend the numberplate of which was D11 DOD. How did that get past the DVLA censors?

I used to be able to add images it off my iphone 6 but this up to date technology confounds me.

why on earth won't you tell people what this store sells to put a bit of context around your wild claims.  this is just attention seeking.  in fairness it has attracted a fair bit.

Ego you’re a very very very nosy young man. 
Tell you what, post your work email with a landline number and a selfie and I’ll think about it but not for very long. 


Gambling seems a really horrible addiction and gambling addicts seem even more cunning than alcoholics and even druggies at getting money. 

Gambling really should be more regulated. It creates misery. You just can't get away from gambling ads on the TV, radio, and online. Live sports are infested with gambling companies. 

RR I’ve just seen the driver of Dildod and she’s such a lovely old dear. She smiled so lovingly at our dog.

It crossed my mind to discuss her number plate but I thought she might faint if I found myself forced to explain.