First off, she needs to refrain from making any statements about the accusations to people at her workplace and the police. If they file criminal charges, she should invest in hiring an attorney to help her since a theft conviction has long term effects.
It is very important that your wife retain counsel now. The reason I advise that you have counsel is that many things can happen at this stage that frames or locks her fate in the future. The company may do or have done an investigation revealing some incriminating acts or statements to co-workers. When they confront her with them, they may put her in the hobson's choice of being absolutely candid or being terminated. If your wife makes any statements not knowing what has been revealed in an investigation. Whether she admits or denies any wrongdoing, she may be foreclosing a strategy or later defense in a criminal case. Don't be foolish and allow this to happen. Again, get counsel now.
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When you say they have "no proof" how do you know? It's probably safe to say that the company has not shared the results of any investigation with you, so how would you know what statements they have or what evidnce they've gathered? Your wife needs to keep quiet and consult with a criminal defense attorney.
I agree, how do you know if they have proof or not? Maybe there is a count that is off an inventory is missing? And I definitly agree that it is STRONGLY recommended that she refrain from speaking to anyone at her work about the situation, any questions about the situation or sign anything. Many employers, who accuse workers of stealing, simply put a form in front of the employees face, and tell the employee to either sign the document or lose their job. The form that the employee signs is usually an admission of guilt, similar to a confession, and has the same force as a confession. Tell your wife to speak to an attorney so they can get all the facts of the situation and recommend a course of action. Good luck!
You have had good info from all of the counsel here. Some overarching principles to keep in mind:
1. No job is worth incurring serious risk of criminal prosecution. Sign nothing -- no admissions whatsoever -- on the basis of any assurance that employment will be secure.
2. It may not be possible to affect the employment termination issue. The law allows termination by the employer without proof of misconduct. Criminal prosecution is based on a higher evidentiary showing -- or supposed to be.
3. It is easier by all possible measures to find a new job than to go through prosecution for a serious crime.
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The company's lawyer may wish to talk with your wife in an effort to resolve the matter. When this happens, please keep in mind that the lawyer for the company is not "your" lawyer. They represent the best interests of the company. A company lawyer is supposed to inform you that they are not "your" lawyer but they may neglect to be so forthcoming.
Hire your own lawyer or at least consult with an attorney before proceeding. Your lawyer will probably hire an investigator to conduct their own investigation and, most importantly, have your best interests in mind.
Best of luck.
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She should (1) not speak with anyone other than her lawyer about any facts related to the case; and (2) hire a lawyer to communicate for her. If she chooses to keep quiet she may lose her job (and there might be a remedy for that) but at least she will minimize her chances of being accused of making anything close to an admission. I can't emphasize enough that she should not speak with ANYONE other than her attorney about case facts. If the police try to speak with her, she should politely say she would like to speak with her attorney and then shut up. She should RESIST the urge to speak with them; they are not her friends and are not going to help her.