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Revealed: The dos and don'ts of entrapment

by , 27 January 2014
Can you entrap an employee you suspect of stealing from you? Yes, but you MUST do it legally or you'll definitely find yourself in court. And what's worse is you'll lose your case. Continue reading to discover the dos and don'ts of entrapment.

The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service says criminal law defines entrapment as where a person is lured into committing a crime for the specific purpose of getting a criminal conviction against that person.

You, as an employer, must stick to the same strict guidelines and parameters as those set out for the criminal law.

Criminal courts have held that the trappers themselves are often guilty of the principal offence, or are accomplices to it, and are also guilty of the offence of incitement. They also often commit fraud against their victims.

The important thing here is using a trap isn't always unfair as sometimes this is the only way to catch a suspect.

BUT, you must be very careful how you use it. You can't offer an employee an incentive to do something wrong.

For example, asking a petrol attendant to sell you some petrol at a discount, when you don't have reason to suspect he's done it before.

But, if you know the petrol attendant is selling company petrol for his own benefit, one of your employees could buy the petrol from the suspect and then testify against him in a disciplinary hearing. This would be a fair trap.

Does entrapment still sound complex?

If so, here's a checklist of the dos and don'ts.

The dos and don'ts of entrapment


  • Act on suspicious behaviour.
  • Monitor employees you suspect of dishonest behaviour.
  • Make sure you gather independent evidence for a disciplinary hearing.
  • Keep a record of any payments made for stolen goods, if possible.


  • Lure innocent employees into a trap.
  • Offer incentives to employees to trap them into committing an offence, which they otherwise probably wouldn't have committed.

Knowing what you can and can't do when it comes to trapping employees will help ensure you're compliant with labour law.

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