If an employee has been stealing cash from the register, what is the best course of action to take to recover these assets?

My wife’s family owned a hardware store and recently discovered that a new employee is/has stolen in excess of $1500 while working the register. She has done this by scanning items in the store and “returning” them, then pocketing the cash. Numerous transactions like this have occurred in the past week, with possibly more within the last month, the $1500 amount being what has been discovered so far. What is the best course of action that she and her family can take to ensure that the defendant will be held responsible financially, if not criminally?

Asked on July 2, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Kansas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The main way to recover money which someone has stolen from you is to sue her: you would seek to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence (or that it is "more likely than not") that the person took the money. You could use testimony (such as of any employees who saw this happen), financial records or register tape of transactions, any video, etc. If the business is not a corporation or LLC, the business owner (e.g. say your father-in-law is the owner) should be able to represent him/herself if he/she wanted to, such as in small claims court, to avoid the cost of an attorney; but if the business is a corporation or LLC, you will need a lawyer (only lawyers can represent corporations or LLCs).

The other option is to report this to the police. If the authorities take action, they *may* require repayment of the funds as part of a plea or sentence; note however that they don't have to, so this is a less certain way to recover the money.

Or you can do both.

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