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Another food thief thread
« on: October 07, 2013, 06:51:20 PM »
My apologies for starting yet another food thief thread, but I can't search for an old one.

In the past six weeks or so (coincidentally coinciding with a stressful restructure), food has been disappearing from desks and the office fridge overnight.  The thief has particular tastes - yoghurt, carbs, and chocolate.  Sadly, those of us who have had food taken are the lowest paid in the office, and one colleague has had to forego breakfast this morning because her bread was pinched.

All food in the fridge is labelled, but the office thief doesn't care.  Items on desks (and in desk drawers) should be safe, but of course they are not.

We suspect we know who the offendor is: a very senior member of the team who often works late.  But there is no proof.

How can we politely let them know the thefts are not appreciated and ask them to stop?  (Bonus points if you can find a subtle way of saying "we know it's you!")  I voted for a somewhat PA note on the fridge warning the entire office about possible food theives; HungryColleague just threw a loud hissy fit.   :-\


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Re: Another food thief thread
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2013, 07:32:41 PM »
I might suggest that one or more of you lower-paid people go to this person and ask them to help you. Treat him/her as though they are a potential ally. Ask for suggestions for what to do.

And ask if you can purchase, on the office dime, several Fridge Lockers. Ask him/her if they'd be willing to buy and put on the expense account.


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Re: Another food thief thread
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2013, 08:05:41 PM »
Find someone higher up (not the food suspect, if you can avoid it, unless the people taking the issue us with the "higher up" are really good at acting like they just want a solution - not that they think that they are talking to the thief) and ask what the company can do about the theft of food.  People are going without meals - which means low blood sugar, poorer decision making skills, and all kinds of potential issues when everyone needs to be thinking and working their BEST to get through the special project.

Then sit back and wait for the manager to think of possible solutions.

Ordering in pizza for everyone during the push to the special project?

Locking storage for people to leave things in - like lunch, purses, jackets, etc.?

A company wide memo that anyone caught will be fired, no matter who?  And have that one signed by a higher up KNOWN not to be a suspect...

Good luck.
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Re: Another food thief thread
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2013, 08:17:20 PM »
Has any notes been posted on the fridge or an email sent out to the group who has access to this area?

All employees,
We have had many complaints about food brought by employees disappearing. Food has gone missing from the refrigerator and from employee desks. Many co-workers are having to skip meals because the food they brought has gone missing.

We ask that everyone refrain from consuming any food that they did not bring or the provider didn't give explicit consent.

Thank You


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Re: Another food thief thread
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2013, 08:46:50 PM »
I agree with Hmmmmm's note, but not the verbs.  The food didn't "go missing"--that sounds like it ran away.  It was STOLEN--I'd call the person doing this a thief right up front and try to shame them into stopping.  But I do think management should give people a locked place to store their belongings.


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Re: Another food thief thread
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2013, 09:26:23 PM »
We had a similar situation at my work where they knew who was taking food.

The manager posted a notice on the fridge saying that "If you eat food you didn't bring you are a thief. (This company) does not employ people willing to steal. Steal food, lose your job. Got it?"

The food thief stopped immediately. Sometimes you need to be blatant with the consequences.


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Re: Another food thief thread
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2013, 09:28:30 PM »
Given that it's a senior person you suspect, if going to management and posting notices doesn't stop it, I  suspect that the most useful  thing would be for everyone to remove their items from the fridge and offices, and bring in only what they plan to eat each day.



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Re: Another food thief thread
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2013, 09:56:10 PM »
I keep my lunch in my desk drawer.  Is this a solution?  A lot of desks have lots as well.


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Re: Another food thief thread
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2013, 10:21:11 PM »
Too bad those exploding dye packs used for stolen bank money can't be used for food thieves.Mgmt could also post notices about possible video surveillence.  I don't think people should stop using the refrigerator.  Other traps can be set.


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Re: Another food thief thread
« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2013, 11:02:13 PM »
Go to the senior person and say "We have been having food that we had brought in for meals being stolen from the common refrigerator.  We don't make enough to be able to replace meals that are taken.  Unfortunately people do not understand that if they didn't bring the food in themselves they should not eat it.  So we think either a web cam should be installed or we should get individual fridges for our offices/cubicles or management should order food in or keep the fridge stocked. Which would you think would be the best solution?"


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Re: Another food thief thread
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2013, 12:30:45 AM »
A few years ago I worked for a company where the OWNER of the company was stealing food from us.  There was nothing we could do about it other then to bring coolers to work and placing them in our desk drawers.  I would suggest doing something like it.  Otherwise I would suggest going as a group to the person you suspect of stealing the food and asking what they recommend for preventing food from being stolen.  Maybe if you talk to them about ways to prevent food from being stolen they'll wise up to the fact that people are on to them.   


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Re: Another food thief thread
« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2013, 12:49:58 AM »
I had a roommate in college who kept doing this to me. I knew who the thief was because she was the only other person with access to the fridge. After I told her she needed to stop eating my yogurt, she said "You can eat mine" but hers had bananas in it, which I'm allergic to. I went several days without breakfast because of her, so I started writing my name on the container because she claimed she didn't notice the difference in yogurt containers. She took mine again. I wrote my name on it, put it in a paper bag, stapled the paper bag multiple times and wrote my name all over it. And then she got mad that I did that! You could put your food in a paper bag, staple it, attach bells to it. Then, if others are at the office when someone opens your food, they'll all hear it and see. This only works if the person is stealing during business hours, though.


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Re: Another food thief thread
« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2013, 03:35:13 AM »
Are you thinking it is the senior person who works nights because the food is disappearing overnight?  If so, I'd just stop bringing extras and only keep in the fridge what I'll eat each day. 

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Re: Another food thief thread
« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2013, 03:44:23 AM »
I've read studies about how people are less honest with items than they are with cash.  For example, cans of soda would disappear from a communal fridge, but not a dollar bill sitting next to them.

Oddball thought: I wonder what would happen if you left a couple of five-dollar bills in places where food is being taken, with a Post-It note that reads 'You wouldn't steal money from a coworker.  Why would you steal their food?'  Might shake things up in a way that all of the PA and scolding signs never could.

Perhaps your office manager can be convinced to part with some petty cash for the experiment...after all, it probably is more safe than your lunch!


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Re: Another food thief thread
« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2013, 05:47:22 AM »
I actually quite like Joy's suggestion!
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