We were recently engaged by a client to investigate one of their members of staff who they believe was stealing fuel from the company’s industrial pumps at the rear of their North-East site.
The suspected member of staff was being seen on the company’s CCTV cameras filling up jerry-cans at the pump (as was part of his responsibility) but the number of cans being loaded up into the company van at one part of the site did not match the number of cans being filled up at the other part of the site.
We carried out a security overview of the company’s site and discovered a blind spot running along the fence line that did not have any CCTV or security light coverage. Closer inspection showed a roughly dug spot in the ground near the corner of the building. We suggested to the client that we put covert cameras in place along the blind spot and swiftly discovered that the identified member of staff was burying jerry-cans filled with fuel in the roughly dug spot. Further surveillance of the site later that evening showed that once the site had shut down, the staff member would return and take out two fence panels from the blind side of the building, dig up the jerry can and pour the contents into ANOTHER spot even further along the fence line.
Having caught this on camera, both video and still photography, we were greatly intrigued as to what the staff member was up to. When he left the site that night we went over to the spot ourselves, investigated and found that there was a large industrial drum buried in the ground with a hose running to the surface. We took photos, estimated the volume of content (roughly about three-quarters full) and replaced everything as was.
We brought all of this to the attention of our client who wanted to bring the staff member straight in and put the evidence to him but he was advised by his outsourced HR company that technically the employee wasn’t ‘stealing’ anything as the fuel was not leaving the premises. We did not agree with this summation and put it to the client that there was something fraudulent occurring and we advocated that we carry out further surveillance. The client agreed with our assessment that the drum was being prepped for something bigger and we should ascertain what this was.
Further surveillance over a series of nights eventually led to the staff member in question returning in a large Ford Transit 350. He removed four panels from the fence line, stepped on to the company premises and set about taking the drum from the ground using pulleys and placing it in the back of the van. He then replaced all of the grass carefully, placed the fence panels back in place and drove off.
The staff member was covertly tracked to farm grounds where he was filmed in the early hours of the morning unloading the drum and receiving a sum of money in return from two awaiting farm-workers. He then left and was further covertly tracked returning to his own home address.
The footage acquired was presented to our client the very next morning. They immediately suspended the member of staff and notified the police. An arrest was subsequently made and the member of staff was later terminated for gross misconduct from our client’s organisation. It was later discovered that the member of staff had been paid £500 per drum and had been carrying out his fuel theft in this manner for a number of years without the company ever seeming to notice.
Article submitted by Member Gareth Howie [P/1510] of Surmount Investigations