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John E. Reid & Associates, Inc. proudly congratulates one of our graduates for doing an outstanding job using the "Reid Technique of Interviewing and Interrogation" to resolve the Featured Case.

Terry Vannarsdale
Division Security manager
Coca Cola Bottling Company of Ohio/Kentucky

Terry Vannarsdale served twenty years as a police officer/detective with the Florence, Kentucky Police Department, and worked as a detective for twelve years. Terry was recognized as an expert in crimes against children investigations, and also taught at the state's police academy on crimes against children. He was also certified to teach patrol tactics and crime scene investigation. Terry was named Northern Kentucky Police Officer of the year for 1996 and helped to change a state law on possession of child pornography. Terry retired from the police department in 1998 and worked as a Market Security Manager for Rite Aid Pharmacies from 1998 to 1999.


Terry attended the John Reid and Associates three-day basic interview and interrogations training September 28 - 30, 1998.

Case Facts - Employee Theft

This case involves an employee who had been employed with the company for 32 years.  The employee, who was a driver, was suspected of writing false Co2 cylinder credits and stealing money. Audit clerks felt he was writing invoices for Co2 credits to customers who had not purchased Co2 cylinders, or who had purchased less than the driver was picking up.  As a result of the audit, the customers who were supposed to have received Co2 credits were contacted.   We learned that they did not receive invoices for the Co2 cylinders they were credited for, and in some cases they had never received Co2 cylinders from us.

After meeting with personnel from the human resources department, and the driver's supervisor, we set up an interview with the driver and a union representative concerning the Co2 credits.

Behavioral Analysis Interview

The first half-hour of the interview consisted of rapport building and gathering clerical information. At this time I established a base line on his responses to non-threatening questions to establish his normal pattern of behavior.
Once the interview progressed out of the rapport stage, the driver became   
dry mouthed.

I started by asking the driver the following questions;

"Do you know why you are here?"

"I am investigating false Co2 credits. Have you ever given false Co2 credits?"
"No."  (Broke eye contact. Leaned away from interviewer. Change in pitch of                  voice.   Bit lower lip.)

"Have you every shorted a customer on the product you delivered?
"No."  (Broke eye contact. Leaned away from interviewer. Change in pitch of     voice.   Bit lower lip.)

After this, I asked him some investigative questions concerning the procedures he follows when writing Co2 credits.  I specifically asked him how he wrote invoices on his Co2 credits and why some of his invoices showed that he picked up Co2 from non-Co2 Customers?

The driver explained that he picked up the cylinders from two men in a blue or black pick-up truck. The men told him that they found the cylinders when they cleaned out the basements of bars and restaurants that had been closed.

The driver stated that approximately three years ago, he had been told by one of his supervisors to invoice the cylinders to his customers. (Short eye contact)

I asked the driver if this truck met him at any specific or pre-arranged location.  He said,   "No, they would see me somewhere in my delivery area and approach me."

I suspended the interview until I could contact his former supervisors for verification of his alibi.  Neither of the supervisors were currently working at the company.  However, I was able to contact both supervisors.   Both supervisors denied giving the driver permission to invoice customers for cylinders he had collected from someone else. They also denied that he mentioned the blue or black pickup truck or it's occupants to them.

I contacted the audit clerk for more information concerning the number of customers that were given false Co2 credits by the driver.

I re-convened the interview with the driver

I told the driver that his ex-supervisors had not confirmed his alibi. He said he was not surprised.  He didn't think they would say they gave him instructions to write invoices to customers for Co2 cylinders he had collected from someone else.  I told him that I would try to locate the pickup truck.  The driver then said that if I found the pickup truck, the men would probably deny giving him the cylinders out of fear of being in trouble.
(Looked away and turned away.  Crossed arms.)

I then asked him what he would think if our roles were reversed?  He said that he understood and would also believe him guilty of theft.  

I received a telephone call from the audit clerk and made notes of additional Co2 invoices that appeared to be fraudulent.

The driver watched and listened to me speak on the telephone to the audit clerk.  During this time I would write on a piece of paper and look at the driver several times.  Even though I did not specifically ask a bait question, this action served as a type of bait that created concern on the drivers' part that I was developing additional incriminating evidence against him.  I picked up a stack of papers and asked:

"Did this truck find you at all these places several times a week?"  
The driver did not respond.

I then asked the following questions,

"Why do you have so many Co2 credits?" (Alibi)
"Two men in an old black or dark blue pickup truck gave them to me."
(No eye contact, bit lower lip)

"Why haven't these men approached other delivery trucks in the area?"
"They wouldn't know the driver and they may be afraid the driver wouldn't take the cylinders." (Look away and avoided eye contact)

During the course of the interview I noticed that the driver reached up with his hand and adjusted his glasses when answering many of the questions directly related to the offense in question. He also diverted his eyes away and leaned away.

Interrogation & Outcome

After the interview, I picked up all my paper work and explained to him that his story did not go with the facts. (Step One.  The Direct Confrontation)  

I then developed the following Themes.  I selected the three themes listed below as my primary themes for the interrogation.  This was a long-term employee who had not been involved in this kind of activity for most of his career.  I learned in the interview that he was unhappy with the way the company had treated him over the last few years.  His position was changed and he was making less money.
Themes Used

I gave the driver a list of reasons why someone would steal:

a.) Disgruntled employee / felling cheated by the company
b.) Financial need / lower income but paying the same bills
c.) Revenge / company was unfair to lower his salary, he was a loyal hard working  employee that felt unappreciated and made a mistake in judgement

Forty-five minutes into the interrogation the driver dropped his head and confessed that he had given false Co2 credits to customers, and stole the money. He gave a written confession that he had stolen between $6,000 and $8,000 over a three-year period and used it to pay bills

Subject's Explanation

The driver stated that he began taking the money three years ago after his job title had been changed and his pay adjusted downward. He felt that he was losing $10,000 a year in salary. When he voiced his concern to a human resources representative, he was told that he would just have to budget his money better. He felt that this was insensitive and showed a lack of concern for his well being by the company.

Punishment Received

The employee was suspended pending termination. He signed an agreement to make restitution.

The employee was a 32 year veteran and would have been eligible for retirement in six months. Even though he had so much to loose, he confessed to stealing from the company.

Notes by the Editor

This is a good example of a Real Need Crime.  In the Advanced course on the "Reid Technique of Interviewing and Interrogation" we discuss the four common needs that suspects are trying to satisfy by committing a crime.  There are Real Need, Lifestyle Need, Impulse Need, and Esteem Need crimes.

There are certain characteristics present in an investigation that can give the investigator clues as to what type of need the suspect was trying to satisfy.  

Some of the characteristics that would indicate it was a Real Need crime are;
    a.  The crime appears to be opportunistic (the suspect makes very little effort to cover their tracks),
    b.  It is usually a first time offender
    c.  The person many times acts out of desperation because they feel that their security or livelihood is threatened.  Many times a suspect experiences a significant change in their life that is the precipitator to the criminal activity.  

From what we know in this case we have a long-term employee with a good work record.  There is no known history of misconduct or theft.  The significant change this employee experienced in his life was the abrupt change in his position, which cost him a significant amount of his salary.  He probably felt that his livelihood and the financial security of his family were in jeopardy.  

One of the most effective themes for Real Need crimes is to blame the immediate precipitator for the subject's decision to commit the crime.  In this particular case, the immediate precipitator was the change in his position.  That is precisely the primary theme Mr. Vannarsdale used in this case.  Using the theme of a disgruntled employee who felt mistreated by the company was an excellent choice of theme material.  Emphasizing that the driver was a basically honest person who stole this money to pay bills was the correct choice of action that obviously had very good results.