Advisory Board Column, Colin Culleton reports…

Advisory Board Column, Colin Culleton reports…

Here is a hypothetical question for our loss prevention and professional security contacts:

The scenario is your company or organisation has suffered a substantial fraud, loss of goods or cash. There is strong circumstantial evidence that the offence was committed by internal members of staff, some of whom have senior and trusted positions. The timing and delays in reporting the incident adds to the suspicion of internal involvement and reduces the risk of recovery of the proceeds.

You are faced with 3 options:

1) Call the Police, trusting that they will do a full and thorough investigation in a timely manner.

2) Attempt to investigate the suspicion yourself.

3) Engage a professional investigations company that will conduct some or all of the investigation.

From my point of view, the following investigation elements will need to be considered, dependent upon the level of loss and severity of the suspicion:

  • Ensure prompt retrieval and viewing of any CCTV evidence in and around the premises
  • Profiling/background checks on all staff members who were on duty prior, during and after the theft (as well as those on furlough, those currently on annual/sick leave and also those who have been made redundant since lockdown)
  • Wi-Fi audit logs. Was there any connections to the local Wi-Fi prior, during and after the theft. If so, what devices were connected.
  • If the company phones automatically sync to the Wi-Fi, this may identify employee phone details
  • Secure and forensically preserve evidence from desktop/laptops in the relevant work areas. If required, these can be examined in more depth at a later stage.
  • Mobile and telephone logs for all suspected staff  – cross reference activity using forensic software to triangulate common/mutual communications/texts/calls.
  • Obtain telephone logs or access control records from the relevant area
  • Research social media and e-commerce platforms if physical, re-saleable goods were stolen
  • Interviews conducted promptly by trained and experienced staff
  • If required, surveillance on key suspects over a period of time.
  • Prepare a professional evidence package for criminal or civil action

This list is not exhaustive, and the offence could involve theft of sensitive data for example, which may require further bespoke, professional and independent investigative services and appropriate disclosure to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

I know what choice I would make, predominantly based on many years of frustration and disappointment over delays or minimal input by Police into incidents of internal loss.

Very often, the initial response by Police to internal dishonesty is good but the pace and scope of the investigation rarely matches what can be achieved by independent experts. This is by no way a criticism of the Police, who are required to prioritise resource and often don’t have the skills, experience or tools to conduct the necessary investigations. However, all loss prevention and security professionals are seeing the necessity for private policing in so many areas at the moment and investigation of internal dishonesty can also be outsourced to professional investigations companies.

Colin Culleton

TenIntelligence Board Advisor

Founder at Asset-Protect Consulting

Former Group Loss Prevention Manager at Next Group and Jack Wills