People steal the strangest things

Where I work, the unoffical smoking area is behind the building by the loading dock. Nothing fancy, just a nice wooden bench under the awning. Not much of a view–there are a couple of dumpsters and the usual corporate shrubbery. Our rear driveway/parking area is bordered by a 10’ sound-barrier-type wall, with a mobile home park on the other side.

The denizens of this mobile home park are frequent visitors to our dumpsters. For liability reasons, I have to chase them away from time to time, but I don’t really care if they want to get stuff to recycle or whatever. Lately, though, they’ve taken to stealing the rudimentary ammenties of our smoking “lounge”.

The first pilfered item was a scraggly palm tree that someone had brought from home. We wondered why someone would bother to take the half-dead, mealy bug-infested plant. Maybe they needed a little color in their lives, who knows? But then, the next weekend, someone took off with the bucket that people used as an ash can. This act was captured by the security cameras: the dude just sauntered up, grabbed the 5-gallon plastic tub, and walked away. Huh?

Was he making a statement, trying to tell us that smoking was bad? Did he need a plastic bucket? Maybe he woke up that morning and said to himself, “Self, I need to go out and steal somethng today!” I don’t know, but I’m starting to worry about the bench…

When I was in college, more years ago than I care to think about, my roommate at the time and I were at the laundramat one night, when I happened to notice that they had one of their ash trays chained and padlocked to a bench leg, but the bench leg wasn’t bolted to the floor, so someone could easily take the ash tray simply by raising the leg up. I pointed this out to my roommate and said, “You realize, that because they’ve done something this stupid we have to steal it.” He agreed completely, so when we finished folding our laundry and had it loaded into the car, we grabbed the ash tray and tossed it in. The next time we went to do our laundry, they’d corrected their mistake.

(I’ve still got the ashtray, BTW.)

A few years back, my partner and I were refurbishing our victorian house. We had removed the 36 aluminum window frames and stacked them in the fenced back yard, behind a shrub.

They got stolen. Somebody took bizarre sized, cheap-ass aluminum storm window frames. Must have taken them an hour, and at least a pick-up truck load to get them. The best they could have gotten from it was about $30 from a recycler.

A couple of years ago, our garage was burgled. Part of their haul was most of the contents of our freezer, including loaves of bread and even unlabelled leftovers in margarine tubs.

A few years prior to that, my flat was burgled. They took all sorts of weird stuff, including a nearly-empty bottle of after-shave. I’ll guess that this was some kind of substance-abuse thing.

Not trivial theft as such, but many years ago my car was stolen, and damaged beyond repair in a joyride around an old railway junction a few miles away. When it was found, I went to look at my pride and joy, and it had systematically been smashed to pieces. Dashboard gauges, every body panel, all glass, all upholstery, everything smashed and ripped. And they’d even cut every cable and hose in the engine compartment clean through, leaving both halves in place. I’ve never understood why; it was a very strange, almost ritualistic thing to do.

Another ashtray theft story…

One bar here in town is such a dive that they use old tuna cans for ashtrays (or did until the public smoking ban came into effect) as anything nicer would be stolen.

I never go there personally, you understand, its a friend, yeah a friend who told me about it…

Hum. I’m guessing thats about $30 an hour. Wow. At least twice what “normal” employment would get you.

Go figure the criminal mind.

Except, they didn’t take it to the only scrap metal dealer nearby (I checked), so it would have been another hour to drive it… plus the time to unload it, plus the gas. And, I was assuming more than one person, as it was a busy alley, and most of the neighbors knew us well - so there should have been a lookout.

There were two “day-labor” places within a few blocks. Seems to me they could have done better there!

When I was in high school, my friends and I went on this stupid lawn ornament stealing binge. We’d drive through an entire neighborhood and grab any and all lawn decorations, including those inflatable things.
At the end of the night, we’d simply drive to some random person’s house that we knew and dump our booty on their lawn. Sometimes we’d even set it up. Of course, we never told anyone what we all did so it was great going to class the next day and hearing “you know, the weirdest thing happened last night…”

So it was YOU! You bastard! I’ve had, over the course of a year and a half, two flamingoes, a birdbath, a light up palm tree, and an extension cord (on Christmas EVE!) to plug 'em all into. Assholes.

When I was in college, the town used to put a big display down the center of the main downtown street. Since this eliminated the two center lanes for driving they also eliminated street parking in the area, so they attached small Christmas trees to all the parking meters. A friend of mine (honest!) got drunk one night and decided that he wanted a tree for his dorm room. Not having any money, he started trying to remove one of the trees and was, of course, caught in the act by the police. He spent the night in jail and the next day several of us were walking around the dorm trying to raise his bail.

Most of the stolen stuff I’ve seen is street signs. Oh, and inter-fraternity theft. A guy I know has license plate frames from practically every fraternity hung up in his room, when anybody important asks where he got them he says he “bought them off e-bay”. SSigns are by far the favored item though, the more esoteric, the better.

Someone stole a flat of pansies I had bought to plant around the lab where I work. It was on Mother’s Day, so I guess the thief wanted to spruce up dear old Mom’s place.

Someone (else?) stole a lemon-poppy seed cake I had bought for my field crew. We had gone out to catch birds that day at dawn and were planning on enjoying the cake in the afternoon. I realized I had left something at the labs and returned to find the cake missing. This was even before the secretaries came in, so whoever took the cake was an early morning thief. Probably needed an energy-boost before looking for more flats of flowers to filch.

Many years ago I had a bag of garbage stolen out of the back of my truck while in a 7-11 parking lot. It was even tied down so it could not blow out and someone had cut the rope to take it. A couple days later a county sheriff stopped by the house to give me a $75 littering ticket, it had been dumped in a ditch about 2 blocks from where it was taken. Some of the garbage was junk mail and the deputy got my name from that. I explained what happened but I don’t know if he believed me. He suggested if I was to go pick up the trash and if it was gone the next morning he would tear up the ticket. I went to where he said the garbage was, didn’t find any and went home. I never saw the deputy again.

When I was in college, a lady from my parent’s church wanted my sister and I to play our violins at her daughter’s wedding. For some reason, we had to wear these horrible looking dresses. I mean, these things were so hideous that the moment the wedding was over, we ripped them off and balled them up in the back of our car, where they stayed for awhile.

Until the day our car was broken into. What was the only thing the thief took? Those hellish dresses! Atrocities we would have given away for FREE!

I always have an image of an ugly drag queen walking around smashing bricks into people’s cars, looking for monstrous clothes.

I guess a lawn mower isn’t a strange thing to steal, but it gave us a lot of giggles to know that the damn thing hadn’t worked in years. Mr. SCL had just never gotten around to taking it to the dump. So, whoever took the lawnmower off the carport - thanks!

At a place I used to work, a guy was fired for stealing toilet paper. Turns out he was stashing a couple of rolls in his lunch box. Hey, the stuff isn’t that expensive.

Back in times when the optical mouse was regarded as a technological wonder, I was in charged of a computer lab of a secondary school. Mouse balls were so frequently stolen that we resort to locking them up and only passing them out to students when they need.

Guess some students out there need some balls…

I rented a car from Avis this weekend. I couldn’t turn on the radio so I looked for the manual. It wasn’t there. (I eventually found a hidden valet switch in the glove box that turns off the bells and whistles so the valet can’t screw with them)

I gave Avis an earful, and they said that they have to hide the Cadillac manuals because people take them. You would think that: a) people renting Caddys are above stealing a manual and b) Avis buys enough cars from GM that they could get 20 books for every car if requested.

They gave me a voucher and the tip that in the future, their Cadillac manuals are stowed in the car’s spare tire compartment.

I work in a grocery store and frequently find empty packages of things that have been pilfered, especially pregnancy tests and OTC cold medicines and analgesics. I guess I understand the reasoning for the pilferage considering that these things can be pricey, but what baffles me is that they steal the store brand generic instead of the name brand item. I mean, if I’m going to resort to theft to kill my headache I think I’d go with Aleve and not “Value Brand Naproxen Sodium,” you know? Heck, if you’re going to hell for stealing anyway, get the good stuff.

During the garbage strikes in France, savvy Parisiennes would bag up their trash in gift boxes and leave it in the passenger seat of their car with the window open halfway. Every single time.