You are here

Theft - Discovery after the Fact

More often than not, a theft will be discovered after it has occurred. In this situation, your organization should:

  • Notify your security officer, if you have one, and law enforcement.
  • Compile evidence demonstrating your ownership of missing items and their presence in your holdings. Finding aids, digital images, microfilm, conservation records, inventories, and other operational or access tools will be helpful in demonstrating ownership. You will find additional information in Document Your Collections
  • In consultation with law enforcement, conduct inventories and audits to:
    • Identify missing items.
    • Review related collections to determine any loss patterns.
    • Examine materials retrieved at the same time as missing items to determine if items may have been misfiled or if additional items are missing.
    • Review access documentation to identify researchers and staff that used the missing items.
    • Analyze related databases, catalogs, shelf lists, container lists, etc. for evidence of tampering.
  • Keep records of all your activities and make copies of all relevant documentation and communications.

Remember: This may be a crime scene. Do as much research on the theft as possible and as directed by law enforcement, but do not disturb any potential evidence (including computer files, work areas, etc.) without first consulting law enforcement. It is critical that you follow their rules regarding the handling of evidence, especially documenting the chain of possession.