Ask a Cop?: Theft & Employees


—–Original Message—–
Sent: Tuesday, October 06, 2009 5:25 PM
Subject: theft

I’m a small business owner,I do in home sales.We give away free gifts for places to show our product.There are a very specific set of guidelines that have to be followed.In essence I hired two employees who did in home shows promising there friends free stuff.Problem is they did not follow any of the guidelines giving away hundreds of dollars.I can prove they didn’t follow any of the guidelines simply by verifying that they were never there.My question is can I prosecute this as theft being they didn’t steal it right of the shelf?They simply ran a big elaborate lie or scam.This second part might fall under legal advice category but I got to try.I later refused to give gifts to the customers involved in this scam,these people lied claiming they were there but couldn’t answer simple questions like what the product does or the color.Did these people break a law being involved in the scam.Best part is they are trying to turn me in to the business bureau for unraveling there scam,is there a law in place to help prevent this type of extortion.Any help would be appreciated.Remember I can prove they never followed these guidelines giving away my inventory falsely then threatened me if I did not give them more.I cant see how it is any different then embezzlement and bribery but what law would it fall under.

Here you go – hope it helps.

If the employees obtained your merchandise under false pretenses and you are out money, you could have a theft case but from the limited info you’ve given here I don’t see enough proof for a theft charge. You say you give away free gifts in exchange for places to show your product and you hired two people who did just that. If the people didn’t follow your guidelines while giving away the free gifts then it’s more of a civil issue than a criminal issue. You might have a better chance in small claims court. If the issue went to court, a verbal contract would be tough to enforce if the other party denies any part of it. You’d have a better chance of reclaiming some losses if you had a written contract and can prove in court that the other party broke the contract or violated terms of the contract. If you feel that the employees obtained the merchandise under false pretenses and can prove it, contact the police department where the incident occurred to see if there’s enough proof for a report.

As for refusing to give customers promised gifts because they couldn’t answer questions that you asked them, it’s hard to give an answer here because we don’t know the terms or conditions you have in place regarding the free gifts. If someone legitimately won a gift and now you are withholding it because of the two people you hired, they could have a claim.

If you don’t already have one, the most important thing in the future is to have a detailed and signed contract spelling out all the terms and conditions. That way if a hired employee doesn’t follow the guidelines you’ve set then you’ll have sufficient proof for small claims court. If you have seen television court shows such as Judge Judy, it’s usually a slam dunk case when one party has a detailed and signed contract that the other party broke.


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