Who Steals and Why?

Feb 8, 2019


Sharing is caring


It is much easier to steal from an unknown corporation than what it is to steal from someone you know. It is also easier to steal from someone who might not miss the funds and or product.

There are many motivations for people to steal:

  • Greed;
  • They cannot provide basics needs;
  • Blackmail and Victimisation;
  • Debit trapped;
  • Disgruntled employees;
  • They just want a more luxurious lifestyle etc.

Theft offender needs 4 factors to commit the actual crime:

  1. Motivation or pressure
  2. The need
  3. Opportunity
  4. Rationalisation

Someone with motivation will look for opportunity.

For example:

  • A person in a position of trust;
  • A person nobody would expect;
  • A loyal long serving employee who rarely takes leave and never gets sick may rationalise their actions to make them feel better.

When the offender is apprehended and held accountable, unless they fully confess, they tend to make excuses after the fact as to why they committed the offence.

For example:

  • “It’s not like the company’s board members need more money, they’re already rich”;
  • “All my friends are doing it, I just wanted to be cool”;
  • “I have an expensive lifestyle, I need more money to support it” etc.

The offender’s rationalisation and or excuses are usually intended to gain sympathy and minimise their culpability. They focus on things outside themselves.

The offender usual protects his/her work domain and doesn’t allow others into the inner circle.  Often they are seen as dictators in the workplace and the general workforce is afraid to question their actions.  Therefore their offences are not easily detected, unless:

  • The offender goes on leave;
  • The offender is transferred to another department;
  • The offender resigns from the organisation;
  • A new manager is appointed to the department; and
  • A Forensic Audit conducted.

Socrates said that: “no one knowingly commits an evil action, evil is turned into good in the mind.” The offenders convince themselves that they have a right to the object/funds they desires. They need the objects/funds more than others, therefore it is rightfully theirs.

Who Steals?

  • Men

Men steal to portray an image of success and “living the dream.”

Men steal for the 3 W’s, namely:

  • Wine;
  • Women; and

They are less likely to identify need as the cause of their offence.

  • Women

Women steal due to their nurturing and survival instincts.  Their motivators would be providing for their family in the current economic climate.  Then she finds out she likes the money and it makes her life a lot easier, it becomes greed out of the need. The motivation for women is 70% desperation and 30% greed.

When apprehended women generally break down and cry.  They are completely embarrassed about being caught and often they haven’t come to terms with the impact of their actions. Generally they confess quickly if they feel that their backs are against the wall.

Age and Gender Groups

This section is not about who steals more or what gender or age group is worse. It merely shows that research has identified the expenditure of certain groups and how they go about it.

  • Older women tend to steal to provide for their families. Their husbands and or extended family may be unemployed; there might be a history of family addiction, drugs, gambling, etc.

To take the focus away from their actions they are either the nicest person who randomly bring spoils for all staff OR they are the scary old lady who has been working there for years and don’t you dare mention change of any sort.

This category uses gaps in the system where cross checks can be manipulated.

  • Younger women tend to steal to live a more luxurious life. They are ambitious and might even go out of their way to look for and or create opportunities to their advantage.

They spend the money on renovations, shopping of luxury goods, helping out family members or might just even love the idea of a healthy bank balance.


  • Older men tend to steal because they may feel that they haven’t made enough of an impact or haven’t made enough money and their life is going by. It is more about ego than greed.


Those who commit fraud with larger quantities tend to spend the money by acquiring assets i.e. houses, vehicles, more businesses etc.


Often men commit fraud in small quantities as they believe they won’t get caught; for example overspending on company expenses.

In many cases men manipulate their wives to commit the actual crimes and or take the fall if they are apprehended.


  • Younger men use the opportunities they find to manipulate the system. Charming other employees and smooth talking everyone into not suspecting them. They seem very helpful and generous.

They steal to improve their social status by pretending they worked hard for their money. They might spend the money on renovations of their houses, buying luxury vehicles or expensive presents if they are in a relationship.

Organisational Culture

The culture for organisations is set with top management. A kernel of resentment, grievance and or opportunity pertaining to the behaviour of a senior person can provide rationalisation for the offender.

For example: If a company pays their director and or board members large bonuses each year but the employees haven’t received pay raises in a few years, they will start resenting the leadership.

For example: Senior management is not firm with company procedures. The “trusted” employee who knows the system and the procedures manipulates the processes to their advantage.

They biggest drive is “human weaknesses”; it’s not about feeling undervalued or needing money.

How to prevent theft in your organisation

  • Always be consistent with systems and processes;
  • Limit user access;
  • Ensure the segregation of duties of all staff and or departments;
  • Secure the manipulation and or editing of information on systems;
  • Set specific authorisation level and or limits;
  • Ensure cross referencing takes place in systems and processes; and
  • Analyse discrepancies and or audit trails for red flags

Be sure to check all documentation, information and processes regularly (internal audit) to identify cracks before they cause harm to the business.

Sharing is caring