Caught Red Handed

AZ PowerWash Pros

New member
So I caught one of my best and favorite day time power washer employees stealing today! I have some SWANN cameras in my office and our sweeping crew lost their backpack blower so I checked the cameras hoping to find out who lost it. It ends up that no one stole the back pack blower and they did not latch it down properly when they left and lost it on the side of the road. So they are getting that deducted from their pay.

But sadly, while I was going through my video surveillance I noticed one of my power washing employees pulling something out of his truck. He pulled an EMPTY five gallon bucket out the back of his truck and walked into our warehouse. He used our five gallon gas can to fill up his bucket and hid it in the back of his truck bed with a tarp! But did not think about hiding from the cameras! Got caught on camera red handed. He has worked for us for over a year now and was becoming a GREAT employee. The crazy part is, that last month his car broke down and he needed a vehicle so I fronted him $1K and bought him a truck cash. Then I deducted two payments of $500 from his pay to pay us back. Then he decides to steal from me because he was short on cash since his paychecks were being deducted.

I told him if it was anybody else he would be fired instantly but I am considering not firing him and suspending him or something. He is the type of guy that works hard and does good work without complaining. But stealing is automatic termination usually. But at the same time, I can understand his situation since I was docking his pay to pay us back for the truck we bought for him. I told him he should have just talked to us about his situation instead of stealing. To make matters worse I really could use him right now and its going to make scheduling difficult with one man down.

What u guys think??
 

"Red"

Graphic Designer
Guilt and shame are powerful motivators. As a suggestion (if you're considering keeping him on), have him publicly admit what he did and apologize in front of the whole company for his actions.

You (the company) obviously have a big enough heart to help your employees when they need it, so why not use the opportunity to demonstrate that to the rest of the crew(s). Toss on a 90 day probation for good measure, but clearly convey the message that theft will not be tolerated and if someone finds themselves in a similar position to just come talk to you.

Times are tough for a lot of people and sometimes overwhelming to the point they can't think straight. Keep the lines of communication open and you'll find their loyalty to you (the company) will go up in most cases. Most people in that situation are not intent on taking advantage of someone as they are at surviving.

Letting a good resource go might hurt you some, but it will just make their lives much worse. He (and his family) rely on the income. If he loses that, then he has to find another job, which may not come soon enough and then all the sh!t starts to built up (can't pay the bills, utilities get turned off ... snowball effect). It won't take much for him to continue down that road just to survive and eventually he'll get caught by the ever loving and kind hearted popo and stripped of his rights and his whole life will go to hell in a hand basket.

Love is the most power force we will ever know and compassion is a component of that.
 

JDhomeservices

New member
Love is the most power force we will ever know and compassion is a component of that.


I like that, Red!

It's a decision only you can make, because you have to trust your gut. If you think the good guy/hard worker thing is for real, and he just made a bad decision because of financial stress, I'd give him another chance. I mean he was just taking $20 worth of gas. If he was pawning your equipment, that would be a different story.

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greg/sd

New member
Stealing is stealing no matter how much money. It shows a character flaw he already knows you will help him out but he choose to steal. what if he does the same thing at a customers place you look bad and lose an account.
 
I've been there done that as well. Never stealing anything but helping them out. I normally work out a payment plan with them that will not stress them out financially. Paying the $1 k off in 2 payments to me is a lot. Still, he should have come to you and asked for help instead of taking. Tough call in my book.
 

Seymore_BlEaCh

New member
Well he knows he's being watched so he might think twice about doing again? I've always thought if someone steals once they will steal again it's just a matter of time.It might not be anytime soon but it's only a matter of time it will happen again.

If you are willing to help someone out like you did and they still want to steal from you i think they are taking advantage of you. Knowing they won't get fired will give them them the feeling they can get away with it again once he thinks everything has been forgotten about.
 
Happened to me twice. Once caught on camera and fired and the other time was this year when I pulled into the yard and the employee had the gas can hanging out of his car. He was fired also, I think it is a character flaw as well and typically these people justify in their minds why it is ok. I would bet 90% of these people also steal "time" and you do not realize it either. Take longer lunch breaks, go home to go to the bathroom, sit in front of a convenience store AFTER they come to work and drink a coffee and eat a breakfast sandwich, spend a lot of time on their cells at a job, etc. To me this is stealing as well. These people cost money in the long run. Sorry, just a bottom line thing for me is integrity.
 

KGILL

New member
Someone much wiser than me said there are two types of mistakes. Mistakes of the head, and mistakes of the heart. Mistakes of the head are using poor judgement like failing to secure a blower and it getting lost. Of course, mistakes of the head can range from something simple like losing a piece of equipment to something more costly and dangerous. Mistakes of the heart show the true character of the person, and it isn't good. Mistakes of the head include lying, stealing, etc... I can forgive many mistakes of the head, even the big ones but I am unable and unwilling to forgive mistakes of the heart. He would be fired immediately. I may not press charges, and most likely would not given the value of the gas he stole but he would be gone.
 

Tony Shelton

BS Detector, Esquire
Guilt and shame are powerful motivators. As a suggestion (if you're considering keeping him on), have him publicly admit what he did and apologize in front of the whole company for his actions.

You (the company) obviously have a big enough heart to help your employees when they need it, so why not use the opportunity to demonstrate that to the rest of the crew(s). Toss on a 90 day probation for good measure, but clearly convey the message that theft will not be tolerated and if someone finds themselves in a similar position to just come talk to you.

Times are tough for a lot of people and sometimes overwhelming to the point they can't think straight. Keep the lines of communication open and you'll find their loyalty to you (the company) will go up in most cases. Most people in that situation are not intent on taking advantage of someone as they are at surviving.

Letting a good resource go might hurt you some, but it will just make their lives much worse. He (and his family) rely on the income. If he loses that, then he has to find another job, which may not come soon enough and then all the sh!t starts to built up (can't pay the bills, utilities get turned off ... snowball effect). It won't take much for him to continue down that road just to survive and eventually he'll get caught by the ever loving and kind hearted popo and stripped of his rights and his whole life will go to hell in a hand basket.

Love is the most power force we will ever know and compassion is a component of that.

That is a great post.

Ty, personalities rarely change, but hearts can and do change. This guy needs serious repercussions that match his personality in order for the grace you are giving him to take hold.

Many years ago, when Chris was about 14, fresh from living with his mom and had zero morals he stole a knife from the desk of one of our customers.

We made him apologize and work cleaning up the man's shop for a week. The man was so impressed with Chris he wanted to give him a knife but we wouldn't let him.

A few years later Chris evolved to the point where he would never steal anything outright, but he used Fayths change bucket from under her bed to buy things, first paying it back when he got paid, then eventually getting behind and getting caught. To make matters worse he lied about it.

I told him no thieves will live in this house and gave him a blanket and put him on the street. He spent the night in the cold alley keeping warm by an electrical box. He was on course to marry Jill and we told he about it too and she told him she would not marry a thief.

We did not abandon Chris, but he suffered some pretty tough consequences.

Consequences change things.

Now Chris would never steal no matter what. He takes losses all the time from customers and never tries to justify anything dishonest.

I hate to think how things would have turned out if we had gave up on him or just let him get away with it. He is a changed man now.

I know you are not too big on this Ty, but God already set examples for us about this with guys like David who murdered a man, suffered the consequences and changed.

Some people never change, but you have the unique opportunity to help make a change in this guy's life. But I am afraid it is going to take some tough consequences to make that change.

Good luck!

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Vince Wood

New member
I used my brother in law for a job once, he worked out okay but he just didn't have any work ethic. The guy is 35 years old btw. My wife begged and pleaded with me to give him another chance since I had to do a job that was lat minute and both of my part time helpers weren't available. I took my brother in law out to a job for a 2nd time. This time he tried to steal the registration tag off the plate of the box van while we were working. It just blew my mind is all.

I told my wife what happened and told her 'never again, ever will I use him!' I told her that I would postpone the job or sub it out next time instead of using him. My wife might wear the pants in our marriage but when it comes to the business, I wear the pants. Needless to say he hasn't even had a part time job since then.
 

AZ PowerWash Pros

New member
Thanks for the advice guys, Tony your words were appreciated. I will try my best to think of a good consequence. I have decided to give him one more chance and hope he can change for the better. Right now he is suspended and when he returns he will have a consequence. In the meantime I have to think of one!
 

Nick L

New member
I have managed large restaurants with a lot of employees over the last 10 years. Caught employees doing everything you can think of- stealing, serving under age guest, not following simple policies. Do not waste your time with this employee, document what happened to cover your self and let them go. People do not change no matter what they try to tell you. Don't get burned giving someone a second chance, I have in the past- never again.
 

Rapid HotClean

New member
Lots of really great advise here.

Ty, my $.02 is that you're doing the right thing. The guy is a good worker but was probably so broke he needed the gas to get to/from work. Just make sure that there's no substance abuse problem that's keeping him broke. Otherwise, you might have a repeat offender.
 

John Doherty

New member
I had an employee do the gas can trick too, it's not a simple crime of opportunity, it takes forethought and planning, that's sneaky. I won't employee a thief and once a sneak always a sneak, I would have to let them go. My family and friends can get my forgiveness, an employee no way, especially not one I helped out with a loan.
 

clarkservices

New member
Ty- I give my guys visa credit cards for gas and caught my "Best Guy" buying coffee and water every other morning. The numbers didnt add up on the fuel purchases. I run the same business as yourself PW & Sweeping Trucks, and faced your same situation. I came unglued, yelled and screamed, but didn't fire the guy. When a guy makes $18 dollars an hour and has to support a family of 4, they sometimes dont think. I believe you made the correct decision, its hard to find good help and this happened about a year ago, he's been ok since. These guys aren't rocket scientists and work this type of labor for a reason. We basically are adult babysitters and its hard to keep them in line. Its takes forever to find labor thats worth it and just explain to him its a no more chance situation. If he is truly a good guy, this should turn him around.
 

"Red"

Graphic Designer
If there are mitigating circumstances that suggest the employee should be let go, then by all means let them go. But ... the circumstances in this case seem to be more out of desperation than out right thievery.

To me, 20 bucks worth of gas isn't worth the possibility of making their situation worse, especially to the innocent people (i.e. family) that rely on the income.

If the value was along the lines of $500-$1000 pressure washer (or higher), then there would be no question to let him go.

I've done wrong in the past (which I won't go into details about), and have been chastised. A couple of times, I was pulled to the side and talked to and told to correct the situation (which I did) and the incident was forgotten. I learned that I had character flaws, and those couple of moments of weakness taught me that I needed to change, which I did.

From when I was a teenager with MCS (middle child syndrome) until I learned that either I could change myself or the sweet and gentle long arm of the law would do it for me, I had no clue. But I am a fast learner and when I focused on the problem, I was able to correct it myself, all I needed was someone that cared enough to point me in the right direction. A fair, but stern, warning was usually all that was needed (for me).

I've been in those desperate situations more times than I care to think about, but I've learned to be as humble as possible and just get through it.
 

apple

Moderator
Stealing is stealing.

He has done it once and will do it again. Especially since he feels it was justified since he was short on money.

Next time it might be from your customer.
 
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