If someone steals food from work and I was present but didn’t encourage or help, what can happen to me?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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If someone steals food from work and I was present but didn’t encourage or help, what can happen to me?

I was at work with an ex co-worker who told me that she asked permission to take a few food supplies from the kitchen we were working at I didn’t ask question I didn’t encourage or help her I did tell her if she was lieing and if I was questioned I will tell the truth I notice it was a lie when she saw the boss and threw the bag in the garbage I told her why did she do that, etc. if the boss said it was OK she then told me that he didn’t say it was OK so she left the bag in the garbage and since I was her ride home I dropped her off now they reviewed the cameras and saying I committed theft but how could I if I didn’t walk out the job with the stuff and I didn’t encourage or help her.

Asked on September 24, 2016 under Criminal Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You could certainly be terminated unless you have a written employment contract which, by its plain terms, prevents termination for this reason or in this situation; without a written employment contract protecting your employment, you are an employee at will and may be terminated at any time, for any reason whatsoever--even simply being present during someone else's theft. Employees at will (employees without contracts) can be terminated anytime their employer decides to terminate them.
They could try to report this as "theft" to the police, but 1) the police are not likely to pursue the matter--they have much more serious crime to content with; and 2) even if the police were to pursue this, unless there is evidence that you did participate, and not just were present, you would face no liability.

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