What can I do if an ex-employer stole my personal things?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What can I do if an ex-employer stole my personal things?

So I work at an automobile shop. The owner there sold his shop to a company that took over. The new owners took over, but the previous owner has keys still to the place, and he went in one night and stole personal belongings like tools from all employee’s work stations. The new owners said they would change the keys to the shop, however they have not and the previous owner came in again and stole from all of us. The previous owner had always been very unpleasant. For example, he always took a long time to pay us for our work. There’s some other devious things that he would do. I really don’t know why he’s coming in and stealing, if he has resentment or is on drugs that’s another issue. Do I file a complaint with the police or is this an employment issue?

Asked on October 11, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

It's not an employment issue: an employer is not liable or responsible for the criminal actions of nonemployees. You can file charges against the prior owner and/or sue him for the value of what you took. To sue successfully, you need evidencd, not just a supposition or guess, that he was the thief--the mere fact that he has keys does not make him guilty. If he was seen entering after hours, is on security videos stealing, left behind some incriminating evidence, was found with stolen goods, or admitted stealing, that would likely be enough to bring the case.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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