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Giz
16th February 2011, 11:28 AM
What would you do if you caught an employee stealing?

Hopefully not march them to the police station!

From the linked news article:

Simon Cremer, 47, took Mark Gilbert, 40, to the police station after discovering he had written out a company cheque to himself and taken it to Cash Converters in October 2008.
Gilbert was paraded through the streets of Witham in Essex with a cardboard sign which read: "Thief. I stole £845 am on my way to the police station."
He admitted the crime to police and was let off with a caution but Mr Cremer was charged with false imprisonment before the case against him collapsed in December 2008.
Now Mr Cremer, who runs a flooring firm, has paid £5,000 in compensation and £8,000 in court costs to the worker who stole from him.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/8325059/Boss-forced-to-pay-13k-to-compensate-stealing-employee.html



Something that confuses me… the employer was charged with false imprisonment but surely you can make a citizens arrest? (And in what screwed up world do the police brush off admitted theft to concentrate on how the, unharmed, perpetrator was delivered to them? Perhaps he should have been gift wrapped?)

Babbylonian
16th February 2011, 11:36 AM
As far as I know (at least in the US), a "citizen's arrest" means merely holding a suspect until the police arrive. I don't think that includes taking the suspect to a second location (even if it's a police station) while subjecting him to humiliation in the streets, especially given the presumption of innocence until conviction.

At the very least, Mr. Cremer engaged in vigilantism, albeit a relatively mild form.

TragicMonkey
16th February 2011, 11:42 AM
What would I do? Depends on who was stealing, and how much. Those factors would determine whether I simply take a cut of the stealings, steal ten times as much and arrange them to take the fall for all of it, blackmail them, or turn them in for the reward. Or all four in sequence. Because enlightened ethics require adapting to the situation, not reckoning in absolutes.

I Ratant
16th February 2011, 11:53 AM
As far as I know (at least in the US), a "citizen's arrest" means merely holding a suspect until the police arrive. I don't think that includes taking the suspect to a second location (even if it's a police station) while subjecting him to humiliation in the streets, especially given the presumption of innocence until conviction.

At the very least, Mr. Cremer engaged in vigilantism, albeit a relatively mild form.
.
Physical detention by a citizen is considered battery.
.
I noticed Sears had hired a guy I knew as a convicted felon, in the hardware department.. an invitation to "shrinkage", as the guy was known to "borrow" things like tools, credit cards, other people's property and sell it..
Informed Sears Security.. he was gone the next time I went through there.

welshdean
16th February 2011, 11:55 AM
What would you do if you caught an employee stealing?

<snip>

I have and I sacked the sob on the spot. I docked him twice the value of the theft from his final pay packet, when he complained I simply told him to report me to the police and we can both tell them why. I added that it's easier to get a new job without a police record and he went on his way.

It (and I) wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn't trusted him so much, it was only £80odd of printer toner, but the betrayal of trust and wondering what else he'd stolen was the hardest to take.

caniswalensis
16th February 2011, 12:11 PM
I would act like a professional; not a child. Simon Cremer acted like a child.

Unless there were some sort of really unusual circumstances to explain their actions, I would terminate the employee immediately and ask them to leave the premises. I would then report the crime to the police and call my lawyer and let them decide how to proceed.

NoZed Avenger
16th February 2011, 12:21 PM
What would I do? Depends on who was stealing, and how much. Those factors would determine whether I simply take a cut of the stealings, steal ten times as much and arrange them to take the fall for all of it, blackmail them, or turn them in for the reward. Or all four in sequence. Because enlightened ethics require adapting to the situation, not reckoning in absolutes.

I didn't even know you went to law school, much less aced the ethics exam.

JamesDillon
16th February 2011, 12:34 PM
In the U.S., at least, there is a "shopkeeper's privilege" exception to the law of false imprisonment that permits a shopkeeper to detain a person reasonably suspected of theft until the police arrive. I'm not sure about the U.K. but I believe the privilege is of common-law origin so the law is probably similar. I don't know offhand if the privilege extends to accompanying the thief to the police station rather than holding him in the store and waiting for the police to arrive, but it doesn't seem very different, although the sign was a bit much. A charge of false imprisonment also requires some use of force, though I think it can be psychological force-- it's not clear what, if any, force was used here. This doesn't seem like an especially strong claim; I'm not sure that settling rather than fighting it in court was the best decision here, particularly given the U.K. rule that the loser pays the winner's legal fees.

stilicho
16th February 2011, 12:50 PM
I have and I sacked the sob on the spot. I docked him twice the value of the theft from his final pay packet, when he complained I simply told him to report me to the police and we can both tell them why. I added that it's easier to get a new job without a police record and he went on his way.

It (and I) wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn't trusted him so much, it was only £80odd of printer toner, but the betrayal of trust and wondering what else he'd stolen was the hardest to take.

Fixing one criminal act with another isn't right. You're fortunate that he didn't take you up on your challenge because he'd have several pieces of documentation to support his claim.

How did you explain the change in compensation to your payroll accountant?

epeeist
16th February 2011, 01:02 PM
I have and I sacked the sob on the spot. I docked him twice the value of the theft from his final pay packet, when he complained I simply told him to report me to the police and we can both tell them why. I added that it's easier to get a new job without a police record and he went on his way.

It (and I) wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn't trusted him so much, it was only £80odd of printer toner, but the betrayal of trust and wondering what else he'd stolen was the hardest to take.

Sounds like you have admitted to stealing £80 from your former employee because you withheld twice the value from his pay packet? The attitude sounds reminiscent of the person referred to in the news story, adopting "self-help" approaches.

Morally (legally, ask a solicitor in England or Wales or wherever you're from), how is that different from an employee who steals because his or her boss "screwed" them out of overtime they deserved to be paid, or a raise they were promised, or [whatever]?

Also, not sure about the law in the U.K. - check with a lawyer there - but in some places, threatening criminal charges to extort money is itself a crime ("You shoplifted that package of gum. Pay me a thousand or I'll call the cops").

I can understand the frustration and urge to adopt self-help felt when e.g. the police don't come to a break-in or shoplifting or the like. But when it's an employee, with all their information and name and address in your records, it's not like they can't be tracked down later and arrested, or sued, or whatever. Fire them and call the police, or call the police and then fire them, whatever, it's not that difficult a concept.

blutoski
16th February 2011, 01:16 PM
Fixing one criminal act with another isn't right.

Yes, that's what I was thinking when I read it. It's actually pretty lucky that the employee didn't go to the police, because they would have both gone down.

"I know you broke the law, but I won't report it in exchange for cash." - this is illegal in most regions of which I'm aware.

It's a clear-cut case of extortion.




You're fortunate that he didn't take you up on your challenge because he'd have several pieces of documentation to support his claim.

At this point, my impression is that the employee could still change his mind and charge the employer with extortion. It'd stick: there must be a paper trail.

blutoski
16th February 2011, 01:20 PM
I would act like a professional; not a child. Simon Cremer acted like a child.

Not only that, but he seems disengaged from reality. Why he wouldn't think this would make potential customers think twice - three times - before engaging him is beyond me.

I would not want to find myself in an honest supplier disagreement with somebody who's happy to appear quite unhinged.

not daSkeptic
16th February 2011, 01:28 PM
Gilbert was paraded through the streets of Witham in Essex with a cardboard sign which read: "Thief. I stole £845 am on my way to the police station."

Personally, I think this sort of public humiliation doesn't happen enough.

blutoski
16th February 2011, 01:28 PM
Just something general about this... the stunning self-justification involved to engage in a new crime - parade somebody through the streets (this is not a citizens arrest but is forcing somebody to do something "or else") or extorting an ex-employee who has embezzled - is a very rigid worldview.

I had a friend who was like this with a car. If he saw somebody jaywalking, he'd light up "Aha! They're breaking the law!" and he'd try to run them down. I kept pointing out that my friend would also be breaking the law, but he'd handwave it away as if it was something debatable - that he'd be given clemency because they were jaywalkers.

My thought is that there's a certain type of person who believes that somebody who has broken a law has somehow dropped out of humanity and no longer needs to be regarded as a person. That they are now officially some kind of chattal or slave and they no longer have any rights.

I have never understood this worldview. Personally, I find it scary.

Gandhi once pointed out that it's not how we act when we're oppressed that expose our moral character - it's how we act when in power.

Giz
16th February 2011, 01:47 PM
I don't see them as having no rights, but it does seem a slap in the face for "justice" that the thief got away with a caution, while the citizen that he stole from suffered a massive fine. It's when comparing the punishments that it shocks me...

(Also, 5,000 quid compensation for hurt feelings just because people now think he's a thief? Sunshine…. You ARE a self-admitted thief. If you don't like the tag then you shouldn't have taken the swag)

drkitten
16th February 2011, 01:53 PM
I don't see them as having no rights, but it does seem a slap in the face for "justice" that the thief got away with a caution, while the citizen that he stole from suffered a massive fine. It's when comparing the punishments that it shocks me...

Doesn't shock me. The most important thing for the justice system to do is to preserve its own integrity. Vigilanteism is a greater threat to public safety than theft.


(Also, 5,000 quid compensation for hurt feelings just because people now think he's a thief?

No. 5000 quid for lost earnings and medical expenses.

Sunshine…. You ARE a self-admitted thief. If you don't like the tag then you shouldn't have taken the swag)

Alternatively, if the employer didn't like being responsible for the injuries the thief suffered, he shouldn't have committed assault and battery on the thief. Frankly, I think Mr Cremer should get down on his knees and thank God that he wasn't convicted of a felony himself.

welshdean
16th February 2011, 01:55 PM
Fixing one criminal act with another isn't right. You're fortunate that he didn't take you up on your challenge because he'd have several pieces of documentation to support his claim.

How did you explain the change in compensation to your payroll accountant?

I am the payroll accountant. The foreman, the sweeper-upper, the nurse, the training dept and the owner.

There is a lot more to this story that hasn't been told. I am confident that he had me for a few grand. I am only 100% on the one toner cartridge. If I was as confident of the other 'alleged' thefts, I'd have thrown him into the back of a van, driven him to a woodland and nail-gunned him to a tree.

As far as he and I are aware, he got away very lightly.

Giz
16th February 2011, 02:02 PM
(Responding to DrKitten)

Oh, I realize that. And I can understand how each sentence is - when viewed in isolation, which I'm sure they were - reasonable on its own. Taken together though, I would suggest that the outcome is manifestly unfair.

And, as far as I know, the only injuries that the thief suffered were psychological (becoming known as a thief to his community). I kinda feel that should come under a "truth is a defense against libel" as he is a thief and therefore the placard is no more than the simple, admitted truth. No-one should be compensated because the truth hurts)

PhantomWolf
16th February 2011, 02:12 PM
Bring them into your office, have a word with them and then let them go, right into the waiting arms of the police outside the office.

bigred
16th February 2011, 02:26 PM
I did catch one. My dad's business. B*tch was fired the same day. :)

blutoski
16th February 2011, 02:34 PM
I am the payroll accountant. The foreman, the sweeper-upper, the nurse, the training dept and the owner.

There is a lot more to this story that hasn't been told. I am confident that he had me for a few grand. I am only 100% on the one toner cartridge. If I was as confident of the other 'alleged' thefts, I'd have thrown him into the back of a van, driven him to a woodland and nail-gunned him to a tree.

But not called the police? If you were confident about the alleged thousands of dollars, the police would help recover it.



As far as he and I are aware, he got away very lightly.

From where I sit, two crooks got off lightly. But only one confessed on the Internet.
You committed the crime of extortion against this ex-employee. Can he nailgun you to a tree, now?

(Or are laws just for other people?)

drkitten
16th February 2011, 02:55 PM
And, as far as I know, the only injuries that the thief suffered were psychological (becoming known as a thief to his community).

The article in the opening post disagrees. It specifically cites "two years of lost wages," which is not at all psychological. If true, that's actual documented harm as a result of the employer's actions.

If you compare that with the harm the employer suffered, which was less than a thousand pounds all told, it makes perfect sense that the person who suffered the greatest harm should also receive the most compensation.

Something else to point out, of course, is that it was the employer's choice to suffer this harm; he could have gone to court instead of settling. In the UK "loser pays" system, he could have walked away free and even saddled the thief with his own legal bills if he thought he had a strong enough case. But the very unreasonableness of his actions suggests that he didn't have a strong enough case.

Another way to put it is that he managed to turn an open-and-shut case against the thief into a situation where he had to pay thirteen thousand pounds because he felt it necessary to commit felonious assault against the thief instead of letting the police do their job.

kerikiwi
16th February 2011, 02:57 PM
I don't see them as having no rights, but it does seem a slap in the face for "justice" that the thief got away with a caution, while the citizen that he stole from suffered a massive fine. It's when comparing the punishments that it shocks me...

Except that the one who suffered a massive fine was the one who falsely imprisoned the other. it was in that capacity he was fined. The fact that his victim stole from him is irrelevant, just as what he had for breakfast is irrelevant.
The caution for the thief is irrelevant. The two crimes are seperate.

Giz
16th February 2011, 03:05 PM
Except that the one who suffered a massive fine was the one who falsely imprisoned the other. it was in that capacity he was fined. The fact that his victim stole from him is irrelevant, just as what he had for breakfast is irrelevant.
The caution for the thief is irrelevant. The two crimes are seperate.

From a legal point of view it is no doubt irrelevant (and for good reason).
However, as a layman looking at this one case, it "feels" highly relevant (and very unfair).

My view is not that the law is wrong in principle, but that its application in this specific instance has produced a result that offends my sense of natural justice.

drkitten
16th February 2011, 03:16 PM
My view is not that the law is wrong in principle, but that its application in this specific instance has produced a result that offends my sense of natural justice.

Well, let me ask you about this situation, then.

I steal a pair of garden shears from your garage. When you confront me with it, I acknowledge the theft and return them to you.(*) But you're not satisfied and proceed to throw a Molotov cocktail at my house, resulting in several hundred thousand dollars in damage.

Does it offend your sense of natural justice when I sue you to have my house rebuilt?

(* Heck, or not. Suppose I just laugh in your face. Does that make it any better for you to commit a felony?)

blutoski
16th February 2011, 03:18 PM
Bring them into your office, have a word with them and then let them go, right into the waiting arms of the police outside the office.

I work in a company that's big enough to have a standard policy and security.

Embezzlement can be complicated to figure out, and some cases are worse than others. As welshdean pointed out, he's not actually sure how much was stolen and he's the accountant! In a larger organization, pilfering and embezzlement have a range of consequences.

Most commonly, I find my employees have used their company cards to bridge a loan during a domestic crisis like spouse being too injured to work.

Not sure I'd nail somebody to a tree for that.

JamesDillon
16th February 2011, 03:25 PM
From a legal point of view it is no doubt irrelevant (and for good reason).
However, as a layman looking at this one case, it "feels" highly relevant (and very unfair).

My view is not that the law is wrong in principle, but that its application in this specific instance has produced a result that offends my sense of natural justice.

You're both ignoring the fact that he wasn't fined or punished in any way by the criminal justice system; he was charged with false imprisonment but those charges were dropped, then he settled a civil suit brought by Gilbert. That settlement was a strategic choice; it's possible that a jury would have found him not liable. I don't think there's enough information in the article to draw an informed conclusion about his liability, as it isn't clear how much force he used to compel Gilbert to carry the sign to the police station. It's not even entirely clear what cause of action was alleged (false imprisonment, presumably?) As for the fact that it's possible for a thief to sue his victim and win a favorable settlement, the system relies on the defendant to assess the strength of his own case in deciding whether to settle. Cremer and his attorney apparently decided, for whatever reason, that his chances at trial were not good.

The Central Scrutinizer
16th February 2011, 03:27 PM
I am the payroll accountant. The foreman, the sweeper-upper, the nurse, the training dept and the owner.

There is a lot more to this story that hasn't been told. I am confident that he had me for a few grand. I am only 100% on the one toner cartridge. If I was as confident of the other 'alleged' thefts, I'd have thrown him into the back of a van, driven him to a woodland and nail-gunned him to a tree.

As far as he and I are aware, he got away very lightly.

See, that's where you and I are different. I would have nail-gunned him to a tree, then blamed it on a black guy. :)

Giz
16th February 2011, 03:31 PM
Well, let me ask you about this situation, then.

I steal a pair of garden shears from your garage. When you confront me with it, I acknowledge the theft and return them to you.(*) But you're not satisfied and proceed to throw a Molotov cocktail at my house, resulting in several hundred thousand dollars in damage.

Does it offend your sense of natural justice when I sue you to have my house rebuilt?

(* Heck, or not. Suppose I just laugh in your face. Does that make it any better for you to commit a felony?)

You are immensely exaggerating the vigilanteism while understating the crime. And while I agree from a legal point of view that a crime is a crime is a crime... from a point of view of what "feels" fair then proportionality matters a lot.

In this case, it wasn't a pair of garden shears... it was the equivalent of about 1,500 bucks being stolen.
In this case, it wasn't firebombing a house... it was getting up and marching the thief to the local police station (while letting people know that the self confessed thief was a thief).

Can you see why someone's emotional reaction may differ between each of those scenarios?

drkitten
16th February 2011, 03:34 PM
Can you see why someone's emotional reaction may differ between each of those scenarios?

I do indeed. But that's why the legal system exists, because "someone's emotional reaction" is a lousy basis on which to run a society.

Giz
16th February 2011, 03:41 PM
I do indeed. But that's why the legal system exists, because "someone's emotional reaction" is a lousy basis on which to run a society.

Where does "My view is not that the law is wrong in principle, but that its application in this specific instance has produced a result that offends my sense of natural justice. " disagree with that?

You seem to think that I am arguing for something that I am not. One can applaud the rule of law, and think our laws fine things, while not being thrilled about every result in criminal or civil court.

stilicho
16th February 2011, 03:45 PM
I am the payroll accountant. The foreman, the sweeper-upper, the nurse, the training dept and the owner.

There is a lot more to this story that hasn't been told. I am confident that he had me for a few grand. I am only 100% on the one toner cartridge. If I was as confident of the other 'alleged' thefts, I'd have thrown him into the back of a van, driven him to a woodland and nail-gunned him to a tree.

As far as he and I are aware, he got away very lightly.

As an owner-operator of a business you really ought to know better than this. It sounds as though your business has no checks or controls of any kind. This is what facilitates both employee theft and your own rampant disregard for basic laws.

stilicho
16th February 2011, 03:47 PM
See, that's where you and I are different. I would have nail-gunned him to a tree, then blamed it on a black guy. :)

You must perform a cartwheel right after using the nail gun.

stilicho
16th February 2011, 03:52 PM
I work in a company that's big enough to have a standard policy and security.

Embezzlement can be complicated to figure out, and some cases are worse than others. As welshdean pointed out, he's not actually sure how much was stolen and he's the accountant! In a larger organization, pilfering and embezzlement have a range of consequences.

Most commonly, I find my employees have used their company cards to bridge a loan during a domestic crisis like spouse being too injured to work.

Not sure I'd nail somebody to a tree for that.

I doubt he's actually an accountant. I think he's an owner-operator of a small business and cuts the paycheques along with a number of other things. Think roofing or landscaping.

The problem is, as you've indicated, a dearth of controls at his business. The leakage is likely much much greater than he thinks. The first thing he ought to do is to hire a real accountant and get the thing on track.

(Of course, since I am an accountant, my first proposed solution to any problem is to hire an accountant. Sales plummeting? Call an accountant. Internet connection down? Call an accountant. Toaster malfunctioning? Call an accountant.)

blutoski
16th February 2011, 04:01 PM
But not called the police? If you were confident about the alleged thousands of dollars, the police would help recover it.

Just to give a counterexample that made it pretty clear for me early on in my life...

I rented a basement suite in a house and worked graveyard shifts while taking evening classes. This meant I drove home at about 7:30am and the car was parked outside while I slept. After breakfast, I'd go to class, sometime after 5pm.

To my landlord, though, this looked like some stranger was parking his car in front of the house every morning, working nearby, and going home at 5pm. Evidently, this infurated him, because he thought the strip in front of the house should be his private parking. The area was resident parking only, which is something that can be enforced with a call to the city - they'll send a bylaw enforcer to ticket the car.

But, no, my landlord had vigilante plans.

One day, I wake up in the middle of the morning because he slams the front door. Curious, I watch him take a bucket of poop and pour it on my car. He then peed on it, and followed up with a good keying down both entire sides, and a fireplace pick to the headlights.


I have another example, which is a relative of my wife's from SVG. She got sick & tired of people using the corner of her acreage as a shortcut and laid in wait with a shotgun. She was shocked - shocked - that they wanted to prosecute her for killing a 6-year-old in cold blood for being six feet over her (unmarked) property line on the way home from school.




So... I completely understand the role of the citizen in enforcing the law when no immediate police are available. What I don't understand is this circuit that melts in some people when they're wronged such that they suddenly decide they're no longer bound by laws anymore. It's just incomprehensible to me.

Another confusing aspect is the escalation to violence. welshdean seems sincere in punishing theft with pretty serious assault and battery. My wife's relative punished a minor trespass with death. My friend who guns for jaywalkers considers death the price to pay for that infraction, and the ex-landlord above thought $10k in damage and human waste was the way to deal with a parking violation.

welshdean
16th February 2011, 04:02 PM
But not called the police? If you were confident about the alleged thousands of dollars, the police would help recover it.

I know he stole what I caught him with, I have strong beliefs that he stole more, a lot more. I 'recovered' a tiny proportion of what I have good but not absolute evidence of his other thefts. This evidence was from other employees and piecing bits and pieces together during the weeks between his firing and his collection of payment. I did put the questions to him of a number of incidents which he didn't deny and I couldn't prove. Why on earth do you think he didn't go to the police?
Incidentally you have significantly more confidence in the police and the judicial system in the UK than I have. It is highly likely, that being unemployed, he would have had a very small fine <£100 and no recompense to me.

From where I sit, two crooks got off lightly. But only one confessed on the Internet.
One crook got off very lightly, returning only £160 odd from thefts totalling about £7k. The other crook still had to pay VAT and Tax on monies that he'd already lost.

You committed the crime of extortion against this ex-employee.
Get off your high horse. Never stole a pen from work? Paperclips, post-it notes? Called in a sickie?

Can he nailgun you to a tree, now?
Well this was a number of years ago, he knows where I am for about 80hrs a week, he knows I'm here very late at night and on my own most nights. He can but try.

(Or are laws just for other people?)
They're [Theft Act] for the people that think trust is necessary in the workplace and the abuse of that trust is what so often makes the workplace stifle good employees with rigid rules, resulting in a far from enjoyable environment.

Ziggurat
16th February 2011, 04:05 PM
See, that's where you and I are different. I would have nail-gunned him to a tree, then blamed it on a black guy. :)

Amateur.

The pros know to blame it on "some Puerto Rican guy (http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/153188/some-puerto-rican-guy)".

blutoski
16th February 2011, 04:14 PM
As an owner-operator of a business you really ought to know better than this. It sounds as though your business has no checks or controls of any kind. This is what facilitates both employee theft and your own rampant disregard for basic laws.

Regardless, I'm still wondering why there's any temptation to bypass the justice system anyway if there's lots of money at stake.

If I was a peer business who next hired the guy, and he stole from me, I'd be pretty cheesed if the previous employer said "Oh, yeah, he stole from me, too, but I didn't report it - I accepted a payoff instead."

Part of the benefit of criminal charges is the institutional knowledge. As some people in this thread have suggested, there's some benefit to publicly exposing thieves, although the pillory approach from the opening post seems overboard.

blutoski
16th February 2011, 04:17 PM
Well this was a number of years ago, he knows where I am for about 80hrs a week, he knows I'm here very late at night and on my own most nights. He can but try.

I'm asking if you think this would be just.

Not if you think he's physically capable.

I'm concerned you may be unable to distinguish between might and right.

fuelair
16th February 2011, 04:19 PM
I doubt he's actually an accountant. I think he's an owner-operator of a small business and cuts the paycheques along with a number of other things. Think roofing or landscaping.

The problem is, as you've indicated, a dearth of controls at his business. The leakage is likely much much greater than he thinks. The first thing he ought to do is to hire a real accountant and get the thing on track.

(Of course, since I am an accountant, my first proposed solution to any problem is to hire an accountant. Sales plummeting? Call an accountant. Internet connection down? Call an accountant. Toaster malfunctioning? Call an accountant.)Certainly makes sense to me!!:)

blutoski
16th February 2011, 04:19 PM
Get off your high horse. Never stole a pen from work? Paperclips, post-it notes? Called in a sickie?

Regardless, I would not give my employer a license to injure me over it. I would expect them to treat me the way I would treat them. I do not believe I have a license to break any law in response to being wronged.

I'm trying to find out if your worldview is consistent.

You broke the law and he was a victim. If he was violent with you, would it be just behavior? Or are you reserving right of violent escalation for yourself alone?

drkitten
16th February 2011, 04:22 PM
Regardless, I'm still wondering why there's any temptation to bypass the justice system anyway if there's lots of money at stake.

Because punishment is more likely if issued privately.

If I nail you to a tree, I know you're going to get nailed to a tree. If I just turn you over to the cops, along with a nail gun, they might decide to let you off with a caution (as indeed happened in the OP, apparently), or a smart lawyer might manage to get you off at trial, and so forth.

It's also much less of a hassle; I don't have to show up for the inevitably delayed trial, I don't need to take time off work, et cetera.

As some people in this thread have suggested, there's some benefit to publicly exposing thieves, although the pillory approach from the opening post seems overboard.

Yes, but benefit to the abstract public doesn't get you very far. Hence the existence of tea partiers organizing their rallies in the Internet and driving to them on publically-funded roads so that they can complain about how the government overreaches its mandate. Hence the existence of anti-vaxxers who aren't dying of polio. Hence childless couples complaining about school taxes and then complaining about how they can't find anyone to employ with needed job skills.

HansMustermann
16th February 2011, 04:23 PM
You are immensely exaggerating the vigilanteism while understating the crime.

No. Vigilantism is still wrong, regardless of how big you think the crime is. Two wrongs simply don't make a right.

There is a reason why we want a judge and jury to apply laws impartially. Your thinking you've been wronged doesn't give you a right to override that.

welshdean
16th February 2011, 04:31 PM
If I was a peer business who next hired the guy, and he stole from me, I'd be pretty cheesed if the previous employer said "Oh, yeah, he stole from me, too, but I didn't report it - I accepted a payoff instead."

Two things;
1) He'll never or not for a long while, work in the local area in the same field, he's well known and skilled. Unfortunately the industry is incestuous and the word soon spread. I have been called by friends/competitors and simply stated "that I wouldn't employ him again, believe what you will of the rumour-mill."
2)A 'payoff', are you :rule10, you :rule10, 'cause you're :rule10.


I'm asking if you think this would be just.

Not if you think he's physically capable.

I'm concerned you may be unable to distinguish between might and right.
And I was treating the question with the contempt it deserves.

blutoski
16th February 2011, 04:32 PM
Because punishment is more likely if issued privately.

Well, that's true for sure.

That's why I brought up the counterexample with my landlord. He was 100% confident he had a tight case. Unfortunately, it started a terrible downward spiral in our relationship and I gave notice the next month. The worst thing for him was that when the police showed to interview him, they learned he had done a lot of remodelling without permits, and it was not up to safety code at all and half the house had to be demolished.

Idiot.

Anyway, it taught me think hard about claims and what's "obvious" in my future jobs, and it's evident that divorcing my acute emotions is key to making good decisions about people. No matter what we do, we end up being 'investigators' and this was important for me in any job where I dealt externally with the end customer, and especially so if the end customer was consumer / general public.

drkitten
16th February 2011, 04:36 PM
2)A 'payoff', are you :rule10, you :rule10, 'cause you're :rule10.

Well, how would you describe it?

Did you commit felonious theft, or felonious "compounding a felony" by accepting a payoff from him to keep your mouth shut?

welshdean
16th February 2011, 04:40 PM
Ah, I see, I'd missed this post:
Another confusing aspect is the escalation to violence. welshdean seems sincere in punishing theft with pretty serious assault and battery.
My bad, I was joking, next time I'll put it in red and add lot's of pretty smilies to ensure the slower members here can keep up.

...and the ex-landlord above thought $10k in damage and human waste was the way to deal with a parking violation.
My guess is he knew whose car it was and thought the owner was asleep. Some people do have a tendency to bring out the worst in others.

Giz
16th February 2011, 04:42 PM
No. Vigilantism is still wrong, regardless of how big you think the crime is. Two wrongs simply don't make a right.



Of course it's still wrong. But there is a vast difference between walking someone to the local police station and (for example) nail gunning them to a tree.

(Here, I'll play the same outrageous comparison game that everyone else is: You could assault someone with your little finger or with an axe. Both would be wrong, but one assault is much more serious than the other.)

HansMustermann
16th February 2011, 04:43 PM
I know he stole what I caught him with, I have strong beliefs that he stole more, a lot more.

Personal one-sided beliefs are not an accepted base for a justice system. There is a reason why the law insists on hearing the other side too, and on the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

I 'recovered' a tiny proportion of what I have good but not absolute evidence of his other thefts.

Convincing oneself is very easy. Most people manage to bridge from suspicion to "knowing" stuff very easily, when they're witness, prosecutor, judge and jury in one. There is a reason why we require such evidence to be judged by a jury of impartial peers, not by the same person doing the accusation.

This evidence was from other employees and piecing bits and pieces together during the weeks between his firing and his collection of payment.

If you had witnesses, why not go to the police?

I did put the questions to him of a number of incidents which he didn't deny and I couldn't prove.

But you're not saying he confirmed them either. So basically you got no info from him, which frankly is what I'd do too even when innocent. I don't know who you think you are, but frankly, you're not Judge Dredd.

Why on earth do you think he didn't go to the police?

That someone didn't report a crime, doesn't make it ok. I mean, equally you didn't go to the police either, and that doesn't mean you're ok with theft.

Incidentally you have significantly more confidence in the police and the judicial system in the UK than I have.

Tough luck. Distrusting justice isn't an accepted reason to take it in your own hands.

It is highly likely, that being unemployed, he would have had a very small fine <£100 and no recompense to me.

That extortion got you more gain than following the law isn't an excuse either.

Get off your high horse. Never stole a pen from work? Paperclips, post-it notes? Called in a sickie?

Nope, but it's irrelevant anyway. Two wrongs don't make a right. "Someone else isn't 100% honest" isn't an excuse to be a crook too. Frankly, even in kindergarten, "but the other kids do bad stuff too" wasn't an excuse, and for adults even less so.

They're [Theft Act] for the people that think trust is necessary in the workplace and the abuse of that trust is what so often makes the workplace stifle good employees with rigid rules, resulting in a far from enjoyable environment.

Well, that's cute, but the rest of us still believe in the rule of the law.

welshdean
16th February 2011, 04:43 PM
Well, how would you describe it?


Negligible compensation.


Jeese, I wished I had nailed the pimp to a tree.......... and blamed it on a black guy Puerto Rican.

welshdean
16th February 2011, 04:48 PM
For the posters that think my being out of pocket to the tune of £7k is extortion, I'll give you one piece of advice.

Never try your hand at being a mobster.

blutoski
16th February 2011, 04:55 PM
Two things;
1) He'll never or not for a long while, work in the local area in the same field, he's well known and skilled. Unfortunately the industry is incestuous and the word soon spread. I have been called by friends/competitors and simply stated "that I wouldn't employ him again, believe what you will of the rumour-mill."

That makes sense, but it doesn't expand the institutional knowledge much past a local insider network.





2)A 'payoff', are you :rule10, you :rule10, 'cause you're :rule10.

That seems to be what happened based on your description of your conversation with him. Paraphrasing, you seemed to be explaining that his parting with some money was better for him than you calling the police, and he agreed. That's a collusive arrangement where you get money and don't press charges.

We can look at it in reverse: if he refused to part with that paycheque clawback, would you have still held off on pressing charges?





And I was treating the question with the contempt it deserves.

Well, the question was sincere. So far you just seem to be refusing to answer.



ETA
OK: so you've explained that the proposed punishment was 'a joke' so I'm not struggling with trying to figure out what appeared to be an outrageous proposal to deal with a money crime with violence.

blutoski
16th February 2011, 04:59 PM
For the posters that think my being out of pocket to the tune of £7k is extortion

No, only the agreement to withold calling the police in exchange for a partial paycheque clawback. I don't think there's any doubt that's extortion in the legal sense.

blutoski
16th February 2011, 05:03 PM
My bad, I was joking, next time I'll put it in red and add lot's of pretty smilies to ensure the slower members here can keep up.

Aaaaand that would be the start of the personal attacks I guess.


My guess is he knew whose car it was and thought the owner was asleep. Some people do have a tendency to bring out the worst in others.

Evidently, it had happened before to other people who parked there, but there had not been witnesses until my situation. I think this is why they dug into his construction situation. It really had a huge financial impact, but in retrospect, he probably was mentally unstable and hopefully this inspired him to get help.

The Greater Fool
16th February 2011, 05:17 PM
I have and I sacked the sob on the spot. I docked him twice the value of the theft from his final pay packet, when he complained I simply told him to report me to the police and we can both tell them why. I added that it's easier to get a new job without a police record and he went on his way.

It (and I) wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn't trusted him so much, it was only £80odd of printer toner, but the betrayal of trust and wondering what else he'd stolen was the hardest to take.

I'm surprised it's not as I describe below in the UK:

In America, withholding money such as this from the employee's final check is against the law. The employee doesn't need to go to the police, a simple call to the Department of Labor would get the employer sanctioned fiercely.

Even if the employer had undeniable proof, until there is A) a written agreement with the employee to withhold the money; or B) a judgment against the employee for the money, the employer has no legal authority to withhold the money from a paycheck.

ETA: In America, it is also bad to do anything other than confirm dates of employment. Anything beyond is actionable by the (former) employee. I'm not sure all the legalities that go into this one, but it is why, unless you have 100% glowing information, it is best to only confirm dates. In your case, since there was no court case, I think a case against you would probably end similar to the OP, you would be paying for loss of future income.

TragicMonkey
17th February 2011, 05:12 AM
Well, I think we can all agree that regardless of the natural justice of holding money from the thief's paycheck, the more proper course of action would have been to extort sexual favors instead. Because of ethics. What did the employee look like? That's important in determining right and wrong, I find.

Darat
17th February 2011, 05:29 AM
...snip... I don't think there's enough information in the article to draw an informed conclusion about his liability, as it isn't clear how much force he used to compel Gilbert to carry the sign to the police station. It's not even entirely clear what cause of action was alleged (false imprisonment, presumably?) As for the fact that it's possible for a thief to sue his victim and win a favorable settlement, the system relies on the defendant to assess the strength of his own case in deciding whether to settle. Cremer and his attorney apparently decided, for whatever reason, that his chances at trial were not good.

Looking at the photo in the article it looks to me as if the employer had tied the employee's hands behind his back, and then hung the sign around his neck. That to me is the point it stops being a reasonable action.

In this case I simply can't understand the employer's action - this is not as if he caught a thief who had broken in; this was someone he knew had stolen from him, he knew their name and address and it appears from the article the employer could have phoned the police whilst the employee was at the premises so there was no chance of him getting away.

I'm surprised it's not as I describe below in the UK:

In America, withholding money such as this from the employee's final check is against the law. The employee doesn't need to go to the police, a simple call to the Department of Labor would get the employer sanctioned fiercely.

...snip...

We don't have a department of labour with that type of power but generally it is as it is in the USA - it's illegal to withhold money without very clear consent.

bluesjnr
17th February 2011, 06:34 AM
@ Welshdean - if you are still employing people in your business, perhaps you should "bone up" on current Employment Law and ensure you keep up to date with the rafts of new legislation that will be coming in over the next four years.

You're a lost tribunal waiting to happen.

JamesDillon
17th February 2011, 09:43 AM
Looking at the photo in the article it looks to me as if the employer had tied the employee's hands behind his back, and then hung the sign around his neck. That to me is the point it stops being a reasonable action.

You're right-- I didn't notice that in the photo it does appear that his hands are tied or otherwise restrained. I agree, that's well beyond the scope of any reasonable response and diminishes whatever sympathy I might have had for Cremer.

EeneyMinnieMoe
17th February 2011, 09:43 PM
Wow. That's a crazy story.

Erhm, I have to note the unfairness of a thief getting money from the fellow he was stealing from- and I have to sort of admire the boss' audacity and nerve cause that's the kind of hardass gesture that makes one grimly smile and darkly chuckle- but what he did was wrong.

If you think someone is stealing, call the police. It's not your place to take justice into your own hands.

Plus, there is the chance that someone is innocent. You can't dole out justice before he's even been charged or even questioned- heck, before he has even been reported.

I'm an SAT vocabulary tutor and if I thought any of my co-workers or students were stealing from the non-profit I work for, I'd report them to the boss. Beyond that, nothing.

Not that there is any chance that could actually happen. Both because my co-workers are model citizens (you have to be, to be a tutor) and because tutors are never, for any conceivable reason, given any of the organization's money. Well, to buy supplies, Metrocards and food for the kids. But that's it.

EeneyMinnieMoe
20th February 2011, 11:08 PM
On second thought, this boss sounds like a thug and like he'd be a really awful person if you knew him.

That's obviously a conjecture but who would even think of doing something like that upon finding out that an employee was stealing? And then actually doing it? :confused:

That's the sort of thing people might briefly imagine doing, often long after the fact- but something no one actually does.

Don't know about being forced to pay thousands- but serves the bastard right that he was arrested for false imprisonment.

eeyore1954
21st February 2011, 05:18 AM
Originally Posted by TragicMonkey
What would I do? Depends on who was stealing, and how much. Those factors would determine whether I simply take a cut of the stealings, steal ten times as much and arrange them to take the fall for all of it, blackmail them, or turn them in for the reward. Or all four in sequence. Because enlightened ethics require adapting to the situation, not reckoning in absolutes.

I didn't even know you went to law school, much less aced the ethics exam.

Many have probably heard this but

Hear is a question from the bar exam.

After drafting a will for an elderly client, the attorney said the fee was $500.

The client gave the attorney five crisp new $100 bills.

After the client left, the attorney saw that the client had paid $600, because two of the client's $100 bills had stuck together.

According to the Ethics part of the Bar exam the lawyer is faced with an ethical dilemma. What is it?

Answer: "Do I tell my partner?"


This joke can also be told for my profession, accounting, but most good accountant jokes (if there is such a thing) deal with boredom and nerds not ethics.

eeyore1954
21st February 2011, 05:27 AM
What would you do if you caught an employee stealing?

Hopefully not march them to the police station!



First I would make sure I was correct and properly document the crime. Second if it was something like writing a check to themselves I would report it to the police. Somewhere there is a check small enough that I would not get the police involved.

If it was something like walking out with a box of printer paper I would talk to them and probably fire them and not get the police involved.

NoZed Avenger
21st February 2011, 09:02 AM
Many have probably heard this but

Hear is a question from the bar exam.

After drafting a will for an elderly client, the attorney said the fee was $500.

The client gave the attorney five crisp new $100 bills.

After the client left, the attorney saw that the client had paid $600, because two of the client's $100 bills had stuck together.

According to the Ethics part of the Bar exam the lawyer is faced with an ethical dilemma. What is it?

Answer: "Do I tell my partner?"


This joke can also be told for my profession, accounting, but most good accountant jokes (if there is such a thing) deal with boredom and nerds not ethics.



Vs. both simultaneously:

An accountant and a lawyer were vying for a very lucrative job with a corporation. Each had tested extremely well, and after all the interviews and results were tabulated, their scores were absolutely identical. It was therefore decided to offer the job based on how they answered one final question.

The accountant was brought in and asked "How much is 2 plus 2?"

Upon hearing the question, he rose from the chair, closed the door, and then came back and leaned over the desk, whispering "How much do you need it to be?"


When he left, the attorney was ushered in. "How much is 2 plus 2?"

The attorney leaned back in his chair for a moment, then looked back at the questioner. "Well, it's going to be a little higher than I thought at first . . . . "

eeyore1954
21st February 2011, 05:00 PM
Vs. both simultaneously:

An accountant and a lawyer were vying for a very lucrative job with a corporation. Each had tested extremely well, and after all the interviews and results were tabulated, their scores were absolutely identical. It was therefore decided to offer the job based on how they answered one final question.

The accountant was brought in and asked "How much is 2 plus 2?"

Upon hearing the question, he rose from the chair, closed the door, and then came back and leaned over the desk, whispering "How much do you need it to be?"


When he left, the attorney was ushered in. "How much is 2 plus 2?"

The attorney leaned back in his chair for a moment, then looked back at the questioner. "Well, it's going to be a little higher than I thought at first . . . . "

That is a variation of the 2+2 joke I have not heard.
Thank You. I am going to tell my dad that one.