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Padding the Nest: When missing equipment ends up at your employee’s home

art2-9-16Companies often make substantial investments in assets such as machinery and equipment. Improper asset control procedures and policies can lead to misuse, abuse, and theft of these valuable assets. The professionals of ResultQuest® have repeatedly been called on for their expertise in asset protection and recovery.

In one instance, the corporate counsel of a large multinational firm providing maintenance services to refineries employed the services of ResultQuest® to assist in determining the whereabouts of numerous pieces of machinery and equipment that were determined to be missing from one of their facilities as the result of a long overdue audit.

It was established that the majority of missing items were attributed to a particular workshop, including a welding unit, an air compressor, an ATV, and a trailer. A series of interviews of personnel yielded leads pointing to the shop foreman as the primary suspect.

Discreet surveillance of the foreman’s home, in a secluded rural area, was deemed impractical. However, our team learned that he was going out of town on a hunting trip. During his absence and under suitable pretext, a visit to the home resulted in a report from his wife that there was an ATV in a large barn on the property that was for sale. The operative, equipped with a hidden video camera and posing as an interested buyer, actually test drove the vehicle and recorded the serial number, further documenting the presence of a trailer, welder, and compressor in the barn.

The ATV serial number proved to match that of the one missing from the company. During subsequent interrogation, the foreman confessed to the theft of the aforementioned equipment, as well as pilfering two old derelict company pickups that were towed away after hours and sold to a scrap yard. He commented that he had initially “borrowed” and returned the property, but ultimately ended up keeping it because “nobody seemed to notice or care.”

Although the company opted to not press charges, the foreman, who was terminated, returned the stolen equipment and reimbursed the value of the two pickups.   In response to our recommendations, security of the facility was enhanced with surveillance cameras, and a regular asset audit system was implemented. In addition, clear company policies and procedures regarding personal use of company property were put in place. Reportedly, there have been no more such incidents.

Theft of company property can be a costly and pervasive issue, especially if measures to detect it are lacking. Once detected, it is important to take decisive remedial action.

Call ResultQuest® us at 713/781-9040 to discuss ways we can guide you through this process.