Example of using an investigative questionnaire

The possibility of using an investigative questionnaire can be illustrated by a short clip from an investigative questionnaire filled out by 14 employees of a company, regarding the theft of money from the director’s office. It was later determined that it was an internal theft.

The questionnaire contained 28 questions. Due to the limited scope of this article, we will present the answers to only two projection questions, which are a good example of the importance of a complete and correct interpretation of the answers to the questions and verbal indicators of lying. In the tenth place in the questionnaire was the question: “In your opinion, what causes led to the theft of money? Give at least three reasons.” One employee’s answer to that question was: “People took advantage of an unlocked and empty office and took the money. Someone took advantage of the crowd during the party and took the money. Maybe the money wasn’t even in the office.”

Let’s briefly analyze the content of the answer given by one of the employees, word by word. He used the word “people”, not “perpetrators” or “thieves”, he used the plural although all the other respondents used the singular and such very direct and appropriate terms. The words in his answer ” took advantage” indicate relativization, that people did not go for it, but it happened along the way. He used the words “unlocked and empty office” even though most employees stated that it is impossible to steal something from the director’s office because when he is not there, the office is locked. The word “took” is a euphemism, that is, a mitigating term that we have already mentioned in the context of lying. He did not use the terms “stole” or “alienated”. The second sentence: “Someone took advantage of the crowd during the party”, indicates an attempt to expand the circle of potential perpetrators and divert the focus of the investigators. With this wording, he wanted to indicate that the perpetrator could have been anyone. In those days, there was indeed a reception at the company with a large number of guests. The third sentence: “Maybe the money wasn’t even in the office.”, is an additional shift of the focus of the investigation to the director himself, that he falsely reported or misplaced the money elsewhere. Therefore, the sentence begins with the verb “maybe”.

In the sixteenth place in the questionnaire was the question: “What do you think should happen to the person who stole the money when we catch him?” to which the same person replied: “First we need to see if it is stolen. It might be vital to someone.” In considering the answer to this question, we must ask ourselves what the correct answer should be for a person making a statement as a potential suspect in a theft they did not commit. As a rule, an innocent person would answer: “Well, he should be fired.” or “He should be punished.” or “We need to call the police, tomorrow he will steal things from us” or similar. However, how did this respondent respond? We can observe the repeated relativization of the existence of theft and the expected harsh reaction was absent, replaced by an understanding of the perpetrator.

And in the answers to most of the other questions, this employee showed strong indicators of lying, unlike the other employees who filled out the investigative questionnaire.

Such answers from the investigative questionnaire led the investigators to his son, who is also an employee of the company, but did not work in the offices, but as a delivery person, and therefore was not in the first round of suspects. When the son also filled out the investigative questionnaire, numerous indicators of lying were also observed in his answers. They stole the money from an envelope in the director’s office, which was indeed unlocked. The day before the reception. The director told the investigators that he forgot to lock the office that day, but none of the other employees knew that except the perpetrator. The son needed the money to repay the debt to the moneylenders. Later, during an investigative interview, both admitted to committing the theft.

Apart from such classic cases, as mentioned in the introduction, there are possibilities for the wide application of lie detection knowledge and skills in solving everyday business problems. Ultimately, only decisions made based on true information can lead to positive effects. In this sense, this article also points to the possibility of strengthening the personal abilities of experts in the field of security, and indirectly the abilities of state bodies and companies in solving security problems.