Guest Blog article by Shane Sturman at WZ…


As you know, we have partnered with the industry leaders in Interviewing and Interrogation to develop a 10 hour online course on their proven methods by WZ.  Below is a guest blog article by Shane Sturman, President of WZ.  Enjoy…

You can see their online course at and or

5 Most Common Fears that Spark Denials

By Shane Sturman, CFI, CPP

It would be hard for any of us to imagine the many different fears or the strength of those fears a guilty subject must have during a well-planned interrogation. I think it would be very rare for a subject to have just one fear. Although there is probably one fear they are focused on most, I believe an interrogator must plan on dealing with multiple fears. It must be noted that the fears a subject has during a business-related interrogation can be much different than during a police custodial interrogation. First, I will discuss the five most common fears during a business-related interrogation. Then, I will show the difference in the order and cause of the change in fears during a custodial interrogation.

  1. In a business environment, the first two fears are relatively close. However, I have found that for the majority of employees, their greatest fear is embarrassment and what others will think of them. This is why it is so important that we give the subject the opportunity to save face. If you do everything else right, but fail to allow them to save face, you are very likely going to be dealing with denials. We must keep in mind that this fear reaches beyond the workplace to friends, family, church and community.
  2. The second most common fear is loss of job. These first two can be reversed based on age, title, how long they have been employed, licenses they may have and even the job market. If you take a manager that has been employed at a company for ten-years and they are terminated for theft, how can they explain where they have worked for the past ten-years? This is much different than a person just entering the job market. The seasoned manager must consider not only their current job, but future employment as well. We must also consider any special licenses or certifications one must maintain for their job that could be revoked if their guilt is admitted or proven.
  3. Prosecution in a business environment is usually down the list at number three. The reason for this is that the dishonest employees have not even thought about their actions in terms of criminal activity. If they would have, perhaps they wouldn’t have committed the crimes in the first place. If you are talking with someone that has prior criminal history, this fear can easily jump to number one. It is very important that the interrogator avoid saying anything that enhances this fear. It is much easier to overcome the first two fears than this one because if the person is prosecuted, the first two fears of embarrassment and loss of job are almost guaranteed. Therefore, the interrogator would have to overcome all three fears.
  4. Restitution can be a significant fear if the subject is responsible for a major financial crime. Often these crimes happen over a long period of time and the subject has spent most or all of the money. Now they are fearful of having to pay it back knowing they will not have a job once they have been terminated and possibly prosecuted. To recover the loss, it is common to file a civil lawsuit that could result in the sale of all their assets for repayment.
  5. If we are dealing with employees from tougher neighborhoods and there are multiple employees involved in the theft; their biggest fear could be that of bodily harm. We all know the saying, “snitches get stitches”, and their greatest fear might be what others think they might be saying. In these types of cases, it is easier to talk with them off site if policy allows, so no one knows who is being interviewed.

In a police custodial interrogation, prosecution moves to the top of the list. The subject has been arrested, handcuffed, transported in a police vehicle and is sitting in some type of a locked room/cell and finally read their rights before they are interrogated. Therefore, the fear of jail/prosecution has been very real from the time they were picked up. Even the introduction of the subject to a detective can heighten these fears. When the interrogation is non-custodial, there are still reminders of punishment everywhere if the interrogation is conducted at the police department. I think it is easy to see why police interrogations can be a little more difficult. Not only are there many reminders of punishment, but it is likely the subject also has one or more of the fears listed above that the interrogator must deal with other than prosecution.
Have a great week…

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Steven M. Degener, J.D. Clayton, CA, United States Steve has spent over 25 years in Retail Loss Prevention. His last position held was VP of Loss Prevention for a Fortune 500 company. Other positions include Deputy Sheriff and Director of Loss Prevention Services for various Retailers. Our sites include, and Follow us with Twitter at LPACADEMYcom and Facebook at the Loss Prevention Academy.

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