Poll: Workplace food theft

I just read a bunch of funny notes from people whose food was being stolen from the office fridge. Most of them seemed to be about food being repeatedly stolen.

I find this incomprehensible, particularly the idea that it is a rampant occurrence. Who thinks to themselves: “I didn’t pay for it or bring it, but I am going to eat it. Because I want to. And the fact that it belongs to my co-worker, who paid for it and is expecting to find it here to be eaten doesn’t bother me in the least.”? What else does such a person steal? What other kinds of completely self-involved, narcissistic and incredibly rude behavior does this person indulge in? What the fuck?

This is totally messing with me.

So have you ever stolen the food belonging to your co-workers? Have you done it many times? Many times to the same person? Did you do it purely to satisfy your desire for the food, or because you wanted to mess with the co-worker?

I figure the really interesting answers won’t come because people won’t want to cop to being thieves, but I would really like to understand this.

Poll to follow

Stolen, never.

I did, however, enjoy “scavenging.” I was working night shift. Every now and then, some department would celebrate a birthday party. There were usually lots of yummies left over. So I’d sneak out onto the floor, try to get there before the janitors did, and scarf up a bunch of candy and cake and the like.

(It was only going to get thrown out!)

I did it once. Stole a girl’s Snickers bar. I was broke and really hungry. Got caught and rightfully bitched at. Never again.

ETA: I felt really guilty about it; this is not my usual behavior. I knew it was wrong.

Yep, happened from time to time until I started bringing my lunch in a cooler and keeping it at my desk.

The closest I’ve come is related to items that appear abandoned. That tupperware dish that sat on the counter for four weekends… I took it. And the TV dinner that went three months past its own expiration date? I tossed it out.

I’m currently eyeing a package of Otter Pops that someone stashed in the freezer in April and hasn’t even opened yet. If you’re out there - take warning! :slight_smile:

Anyway, that’s my theory about missing food. Someone was policing the break room for abandoned items to prevent them from turning green and crawling away. They got overly aggressive, or mistook your item for something that had been there for a while.

I never did but it was a regular feature at one workplace. I was a temp there and the managers I worked for offered to put my lunch in their shared fridge. I just used a cooler bag and would tuck it below my desk. The complaints about stuff being stolen from the breakroom fridges occured weekly.

One boring day, I cleaned the fridges because they smelled so bad. I found a 12-year old bottle of salad dressing and a cooler bag that was completely filled with mold from grapes and a can of pop. No one would own up to either item. I threw out the ice cube trays because they smelled of mold and brought new ones in the next day. Everyone but the secretaries was impressed with my bravery. And, for some reason, the thefts stopped.

That’s not stealing. That’s taking care of leftovers. You’re just doing it to be kind :wink:

Stealing is when you eat someone’s brownbag or something.

Stealing someone’s lunch they brought from home is stealing. I’ve had it happen to me and it sucked. Taking obviously abandoned gross and moldy nice containers that you’re willing to bleach into goodness isn’t. (Though I’ve had nice ones stolen from work fridges on the day I brought them which is why I just went to cheap crap.)

<Throwing out old disgusting leftover food so that everyone else doesn’t have to is what might get you into heaven. I’ve done it it.>

Hi, I’m Enright3, and I have stolen someone else’s stuff from the work refrigerator.

I had to work over a weekend, and I thought I was the only one in the office that weekend. I saw a can of Coke in the refrigerator; and I drank it (Saturday), thinking I would replace it on Sunday, and that by the time Monday rolled around it wouldn’t be a big deal. Well it turned out I wasn’t the only one working in the office that day. :eek: and I had to admit to a friend of mine what I’d done after he started complaining that someone stole his Coke. All was cool after that, but I learned a pretty valuable lesson.

I’ve never stolen food from the work fridge. However I’ve been accused of such behavior. I’m the guy who cleans up the fridge when it gets gross. I put a sign on the door a week before and throw out anything that’s not marked with someone’s name especially if it’s moldy or the best by date has expired.

I’ve had people complain even with a week’s notice because I’ve put their tupperware in the trash. Hell it was moldy inside of it and not marked with a name!

About 6 months ago I cleaned out a work fridge and found stuff years old. The worse was some cheese with a best by date of 2007.

To help deter thieves from your food:

  • Put your name on your items so it doesn’t look like an anonymous or forgotten item (all items in the fridge should be labeled anyway).
  • Get one of those soft coolers with a zipper which has two zipper tabs and lock the tabs together with a luggage lock. This makes it harder for the thief to snatch something out of it.

How to clean a shared fridge:

It’s easy to forget stuff in the fridge, so a shared fridge will eventually end up with lots of spoiled food. A good way to periodically clean out a fridge is:

  • Put stickers on everything in the fridge and freezer
  • Put a sign on the fridge saying that on a specific day (about 10 days out), any item which still has a sticker will be thrown out.

New items won’t have a sticker and people who want their item saved will remove the sticker. Then when cleanup day comes around, throw away anything with a sticker.

At work, there’s a sign posted on the door that every Monday between 6a-6:30a EVERYTHING will be tossed. EVERYTHING.

I accidentally left my lunchbox in there over the weekend and had to go rooting through the trash to find it. Among the other items tossed were half a birthday cake and an unopened gallon of lemonade.

My boss has a dorm fridge and since we’ve been storing our lunch in there nothing’s been stolen. I did have one of those Soup at Handsoups and I left it the kitchen while I ran to the bathroom. Both of the microwaves were being used.

When I came back, it was gone.

I’ve never stolen anyone’s food. I suppose there is a theoretical point where hunger might exceed the guilt and fear of embarrassment if caught, but I have never reached it and don’t expect to. At one place I worked, people got so furious about a chronic thief that security put in a hidden camera. It turned out to be a woman with an eating disorder.

I keep a small fridge in my office, and feel fortunate to have the room to do so. I think I actually worry less about someone taking my food than I do about a disturbed person doing something weird to it. Everyone seems very nice here, but that being said, it’s nice to not have to worry about anyone bothering my stuff.

I never have, but I suppose if I ever were in a situation where I had to liberate someone else’s calories I would at least leave an IOU note so they’d know who to come to.

I made the mistake of leaving a carton of Dr Peppers in the community fridge once. With my name clearly written on the box. I soon went to keeping the box under my desk and one can in the door of the fridge with my initials on the top.

Not on purpose. But I know there’s times I’ve taken someone’s frozen entree by mistake. Did I bring the Lean Cusine baked chicken today? Or was it the macaroni and cheese ?

Did it in college. I didn’t dawn on me that this was wrong, since nothing was ever labeled or anything. I had a fridge in my room and assumed everyone else did, and that the stuff put out without labels was supposed to be for everyone.

It wasn’t until years later that I realized what I had done.

No, I never have. And I’m not sure how it ever got to be OK. I wonder if it’s partly because I’m an only child and never really had anything “shared”, so as soon as I started sharing space with other people I immediately felt a sense of “theirs” and “mine”.

I’ve rarely had my lunch stolen, too. I don’t really get people who steal food. It’s not Ok, not even if you plan to replace it. Just ask. I usually have a couple of days of frozen lunches in the freezer; if you are starving, I don’t mind you having one, just let me know and then buy me a new one.

I worked for a number of years for a really, really large law firm in New York City. One of those gigantic firms that specializes in brokering massive commercial transactions and all the attorneys wear $1,000+ dollar suits every day. In fact, the office itself has been used as the set for several movies that I know of.

The person on the floor I worked most likely to randomly steal your lunch if you were injudicious enough to leave it in the shared break room fridge? Corner office, senior partner, on the Administrative Committee, with a yearly income well into eight figures. His ass would steal $2.00 frozen Lean Cuisines from the break room fridge. Labelled, unlabelled, notes, emails to the floor, notices on the door - nothing had any effect on his theft. He would do it shamelessly - even when he’d already eaten the deeply expensive, nutritionist-approved gourmet hot lunch he had delivered daily. If confronted, he would pretend - every single time - not to have realized a) that it belonged to someone who was not him and b) taking it was in some fashion incorrect. Every. Single. Time. My desk was directly outside his office, and I personally witnessed this conversation at least a dozen times. And those were just the times that someone actually called him out on it.

One of his favorite office gripes was that the goddamn things tasted like shit - and he would whine if the selection did not include his “favorites”. My hand to God on it. The only ones that were safe were the Salisbury Steak flavored ones and the quasi-Asian flavors. If that’s all there was, he’d just bitch that there weren’t any good ones in the freezer. This guy actually routinely carried well over a grand in his wallet and had at least three (that I know of) credit cards with limits and available credit sufficient to purchase a luxury automobile. But he stole - routinely - crappy frozen dinners brought in by the support staff for lunch. His assistant and I both pointed out that, yanno, people were not bringing them in for his benefit and that stealing them was wrong. He would just give us blank looks.

I’ve never stolen from the fridge and never bring a lunch to have stolen.

At my last workplace, we once received a company-wide email from the owner that whoever’s yogurt was in the fridge was to see him about reimbursement. I was sort of amused as the non-owner but I’d have probably been annoyed if I was looking forward to eating it.

Working late and hungry? Sweets, chocolate bars, scroggin and other snacks left in sight are fair game…But must be “double replaced” at the first opportunity. Or purchased at the normal exorbitant vending machine rates.