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Heroic IT Dept Less Likely to Steal... Lunches? 491

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the wow-august-is-boring dept.
An anonymous reader writes "According to an article in the Houston Chronicle concerning lunch theft, people from IT are least likely to steal lunches because they are a "hero department." The most likely? Accounting and Customer-Support... "
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Heroic IT Dept Less Likely to Steal... Lunches?

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  • muffins (Score:5, Interesting)

    by legoburner (702695) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @11:38AM (#15989644) Homepage Journal
    In the book 'Freakonomics' there is a study about a man who used to drop off muffin baskets with a box to put a dollar in for each muffin that was taken. He kept very precise statistics for years in different white-collar offices about where he put the basket, how much money went in and so forth. The results are basically that the lower down in the office rank someone is, the less likely they are to steal and the higher up, the more theft occurs with CEOs and other top-floor executives being by far the worst. They put it down to a sense of entitlement in the execs and the invisibility of the crime relative to stealing from a muffin shop amongst other reasons.
    • Also... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Poromenos1 (830658) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @11:49AM (#15989697) Homepage
      Also because the higher-ups are used to stealing!

      Thank you, I'll be here for a bit.
    • Re:muffins (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 27, 2006 @11:53AM (#15989720)
      I believe it was bagels rather than muffins. One of the interesting things was whether the higher-ups steal because they're high up or whether the higher-ups became high-up because they steal. It was also found that people in all departments are more likely to steal around holidays than other times of the year.
      • Re:muffins (Score:5, Interesting)

        by arth1 (260657) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @12:05PM (#15989774) Homepage Journal
        I know from running an IT department that there's a correlation between how much someone gets paid and how unlikely he is to return work items like phones, laptops and calculators upon quitting or retirement. (Note that I said correlation and not reverse correlation.)

        My theory is that scruples will hinder people's career advancement, and the more unscrupulous you are, the higher you'll go. Being able to steal a hungry baby's food without any remorse would probably be considered a useful trait for a CFO.

        Regards,
        --
        *Art
        • Re:muffins (Score:5, Funny)

          by foniksonik (573572) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @12:32PM (#15989882) Homepage Journal
          That's cause a hungry baby has lots of supporters waiting nearby to feed it with their own portion rather than see it go hungry, whereas the CFO has little or no supporters and must fend for himself or die.

          • Re:muffins (Score:5, Insightful)

            by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @01:22PM (#15990080)
            No, it's because that CFO is a sociopath who is incapable of empathy, or feeling remorse or guilt. Most organizational hierarchies (whether they be corporate, military, governmental, academic, you name it) tend to select for the most unscrupulous, because those are the people that focus on moving up the pay scale rather than doing their jobs. They are also very hard to spot, because an experienced sociopath learns the behaviors that will get it what it wants (they're exceptional actors for the most part.) The only reason that such organizations function well is if there are efficient mechanisms in place to discourage bad behavior: sociopaths can do a good job if they know that they'll get bitch-slapped for screwing up. What's been happening to corporate America over the past few decades is the removal of penalties for failure. Except in extreme cases like Worldcom and Enron, there is simply no real punishment for a CEO/CFO, C-anything that raids the company coffers for personal profit or simply runs the company into the ground.

            Another part of the problem is that the laws and systems that provide corporate governance were put in place a long time ago. The country and its people had a very different view of ethics and morality in those times. I mean, where do CEO's and the like come from? Who are the people that invest money in their companies? Well, they come from us, and our own moral fiber (or lack of it) is being reflected in the nature and behavior of the corporations we invest in.

            It's like the old joke about corporations being like septic tanks ... the really big chunks rise to the top.
            • Re:muffins (Score:4, Interesting)

              by netwiz (33291) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @04:48PM (#15990873) Homepage
              The above poster is absolutely, 100% correct. There are no penalties for failure for managers anymore. You can screw up every task of management set before you, and nothing will come of it. It's time for all competent workers (you know who you are) to find the competent worker management, and essentially tattle on the ineffective managers. Note that this requires skill and subtlety, and a willingness to keep at it even when it doesn't look so good for you.

              Ultimately, it's high time the incompetent 80% that's had a free ride to date either got with the program, or got cut off from the rest of the productive members of society.
              • Re:muffins (Score:5, Interesting)

                by crucini (98210) on Monday August 28, 2006 @03:01AM (#15992503)
                It's time for all competent workers (you know who you are) to find the competent worker management, and essentially tattle on the ineffective managers.

                That is not a wise move. If you think your manager is incompetent, either leave or adapt. By "adapt" I mean, learn to compensate for his weaknesses.

                It's quite likely that the manager who looks incompetent to you is simply responding to issues and priorities beyond your knowledge.

                In any event, spreading negativity will most likely backfire on you. Upper management will almost always side with the manager versus the employee.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by NateTech (50881)
                There's not consensus about what "every task of management" even is. Never has been. Look at the Business section of a bookstore sometime.

                The job itself is poorly defined (on purpose) as a structural way of giving a manager power.

                Only their boss knows what they've told them to accomplish and only their boss can evaluate them.
        • Re:muffins (Score:5, Insightful)

          by TCQuad (537187) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @01:04PM (#15990007)
          You might be over-extrapolating. Work items are a set cost, but to each person, the value is variable.

          Let's say you give two people $2,000 in equipment (laptop, phone, accessories, whatever). Someone making $20,000 could never afford all that stuff on their own, so they're likely to view it as valuable. Someone making $200,000 could afford it and is probably less likely to consider its intrinsic value. Someone making $2,000,000 probably scoffs at anyone ever being able to use such low-end tools.

          Price is fixed; value is not. As such, the appearance of scruples might vary. To account for this, it would be required to compare items of equal relative value to each person. Are the odds of someone making high six-figures not returning a laptop equal to the odds of interns making low-five figures not returning office supplies?
          • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Sunday August 27, 2006 @01:47PM (#15990184)
            It it came down to how much you could afford, wouldn't you see the CxO's putting $20 bills into the tin?
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by NevarMore (248971)
            " Are the odds of someone making high six-figures not returning a laptop equal to the odds of interns making low-five figures not returning office supplies?"

            Having been a low 5's intern for a year now (3 companies in that time), with interns and part-time college student work (2 jobs in 5 years) it depends on how we're treated.

            The owner who laid the entire photo lab staff off the weekend before finals and didn't have the balls to tell us himself (making our favorite manager/office mom cry when she told us)
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by clifyt (11768)
              "making our favorite manager/office mom cry when she told us"

              Have you ever thought that it was her job to do so?

              I've been in the position before that I had to let someone go, even though it was someone elses decision. It could be said that the one making me let someone go had no balls -- but that person had little in the way of people skills in the first place. Thats why I was there. To act as a buffer between the guy at the top (or at least top on our area) and the grunts. I've known others in this sam
          • Re:muffins (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot DOT kadin AT xoxy DOT net> on Sunday August 27, 2006 @04:58PM (#15990909) Homepage Journal
            I think this is probably pretty close to the truth. While there definitely may be an aspect of sociopathology involved in corporate advancement, I think it's also likely that someone who's making $200,000+ a year and brokering million or billion-dollar deals every day, just doesn't value the bagel very much. It's such a trivial amount of money to them, it doesn't seem worth the bother to find change (if they even carry cash) and pay for it.

            Obviously there's a sense of "entitlement" there as well, but I think people are jumping on the 'all executives are sociopaths' bandwagon a little quickly. It reeks of sour grapes.

            If I was trying to keep people from taking bagels/muffins/coffee in a situation like that, rather than putting out a "coin jar" where people have to put in a piddling amount every time they take an item, which requires that they keep small change hanging around (or cash money in general, which many people don't have), it might be easier to let people pay in advance. E.g., in many government offices the water coolers are paid for by members of the "water club;" if you want to drink water, you pay $10 at the beginning of the quarter and get your name put on a list that's taped to the front of the water cooler (or simply made known to everyone else).
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          As someone who doesn't like to return phones or laptops or whatnot when I leave a company, I'd like to offer a better reason:

          Life's too short.

          It's that simple. When I was younger (and consequently less paid), I used to try to keep my home and work stuff separate. But when I'd get to a new company, I'd be given a new phone that didn't do what I wanted, a laptop that wasn't setup the way I liked, and I could spend months before I was finally using a setup that I was comfortable with and happy with.

          Then some
        • by Lead Butthead (321013) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @01:45PM (#15990176) Journal
          Being able to steal a hungry baby's food without any remorse would probably be considered a useful trait for a CFO.
          Stealing? That's not stealing. That's ... unsolicited ownership transfer.
      • Re:muffins (Score:4, Insightful)

        by perkr (626584) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @12:21PM (#15989837)
        How about if you are high up in the food chain you perceive the "crime" as something completely insignificant in comparison to the high-impact decisions you are paid to make. Something like people don't care if they steal a pen from the office, if you're high up, not returning a laptop kinda falls into the same category.
      • Holidays... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Junta (36770) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @01:29PM (#15990110)
        I wonder how obvious the request for payment was. I could see that if most of the year a bunch of bagels show up, you might look more carefully to determine why they are there and notice the request for payment. I could see that around a holiday season the explanation is 'oh, someone brought in food for the holidays', and grab one without thinking or looking hardly at all. If it was a note in front of the food they might have assumed it probably said something like happy holidays or something, without bothering to read and just grabbing for the food.

        It could also serve to explain some of the executive stealing too. I've noticed year round as I talk to executives, they frequently seem to have some sort of food available for people to grab and much on, usually provided or acquired by their administrative assistant. An executive is more likely to be used to random cookies/bagels/muffins/whatever to magically appear for free consumption than us peons at the bottom.

        Just putting forth an alternative explanation.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I think it's because low level people are afraid they'll get caught and fired.

      Top execs know they aren't going to get fired for something stupid like that.
    • by ishmalius (153450) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @12:14PM (#15989810)
      An IT guy is always skulking around the office (as far as non-techies are concerned), and messing with other people's desks and computers. So he has the burden of being not just scrupulous and honest, but obviously so. He can't risk all of the goodwill and trust he so badly needs, merely for a single bite of a stale and badly made sandwich. Now, corned beef on a bagel is another matter. ^^
      • by TClevenger (252206) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @03:18PM (#15990572)
        Exactly. The IT folks usually have the best physical access (master keys, access cards with 24x7x365 ability), so they will maintain the best appearance of honesty if they know what's good for them.

        On my second day of a previous job, I arranged to work on a machine of a user while she was at lunch. I had a visit from my boss the next day. Apparently the user left her purse under her desk while she was at lunch, and $200 was missing. I didn't even notice a purse under there; I just installed some software and left, so either she was lying, or somebody else saw what was happening and took advantage of the new unknown IT guy without an alibi.

        I strenuously maintained my innocence, and all was eventually forgotten, and I even eventually became friends with the user. (I worked there for 5 years.) But I'm much more aware of situations I can get myself into. I always ask before touching a computer (except in emergency, such as virus situation), make sure they stick around if there's personal effects in easy reach, and make sure there's a witness if I'm working on any 'known problem users.' I don't take old equipment home or put it on eBay without written permission from the financial higher-ups, and I never put it in my car when users are watching. (It's an appearance thing, remember.) I'm also aware when I work late and there's a lone female employee in the building; you never know when somebody's looking for the 'sexual harrassment jackpot.'

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      All the envious "higher ups get there because they steal ha ha ha" comments aside, I think there's a simpler explanation. The more money you make, the smaller the theft seems. A buck to someone making a million a year is not the same as someone who has to watch every dollar and appreciates it.

      Or to put it another way, a more interesting experiment would be to put a penny candy jar out. A penny is nothing to everyone, so I would expect the rates of theft to much closer to the same.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Dun Malg (230075)

        All the envious "higher ups get there because they steal ha ha ha" comments aside, I think there's a simpler explanation. The more money you make, the smaller the theft seems. A buck to someone making a million a year is not the same as someone who has to watch every dollar and appreciates it.

        In my experience, the opposite is true. You get rich by being conscious of income and expenditures at all times. Really, you have to work at it. Personaly, I'm not one of those dopes who thinks rich people got that wa

    • Re:muffins (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Wavicle (181176) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @10:30PM (#15991883)
      Along this vein, I've been dying to share this true story of mine from back in the dot-com days...

      I was working for one of the many "we're going to enhance the users internet experience" companies. The VP of development was a woman who had become independently wealthy from the IPO of a previous company and was only working here because being retired was too boring.

      One day six of us, including said VP, go out to this new greek restaurant. The food is delicious, the service was warm, we were all happy. We all got the same thing which cost $8 after tax, and we all agreed that $2 each was an appropriate tip. Well the VP was too good to carry cash so she put it on her credit card. She received $50 in cash for a $48 bill.

      SHE FILLED OUT THE CREDIT SLIP FOR $51!

      I could not believe what I had just seen. Talk about your sense of entitlement. In my opinion she had just robbed the wait staff. Pitching in 1 of her several million dollars for an $8 meal was beyond belief. I'm not sure which pissed me off more: that she had done it, or that there wasn't a damned thing I could do about it.
  • Why the hell would we steal brown bag lunches? Now if it was some sort of fast food... we'd be all over it...
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      We're supposed to pay $0.25 per cup for coffee at work. I only pay for maybe 1 cup in 20. Of course, I guess I can be hero, because I'm stealing from The Man and not my coworkers, right?
      • At least your company provides coffee, even if you have to pay for it. The company I work for is so cheap I had to bring in my own coffee pot, grounds, and filters.
      • by Peyna (14792)
        So you're the bastard that hasn't been paying for coffee. By the way, you ARE stealing from your co-workers, because we're the ones who buy the coffee.
  • by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Sunday August 27, 2006 @11:40AM (#15989658) Homepage
    If you want the IT guys to steal lunch, you've got to bait them with something caffeinated and something sugary. Try some Bawls, Mt. Dew, and Skittles.
    • Real reason (Score:3, Interesting)

      by booch (4157)
      I think you're on the right track. I think the real reason IT people don't steal other people's lunches is that they are more picky about what they eat than any other group. And I don't mean healthy choices, just that they're more likely to dislike a large variety of foods.
  • by arth1 (260657) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @11:46AM (#15989679) Homepage Journal
    Unfortunately, I'm certain that if I made a special lunch sandwich with razorblades, and some bastard stole it and hurt himself, the police would come after me.

    What I really want to know is who the fucker is who deliberately pees all over the toilet seat and floor at work. I know people might hate their job and feel frustration, but is there any reason to take it out on everybody else?

    Regards,
    --
    *Art
  • by mgkimsal2 (200677) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @11:48AM (#15989689) Homepage
    I've heard some stories at work of people having their lunches/food taken from the communal fridges. Personally, I find it very bizarre. I think I used someone's mustard by mistake once. Some people have their names on condiments, and I only noticed half the name left after I used some, as the name had been partially smudged off already. I felt bad enough about that. But just coming in and taking someone else's food? Really, I just can't imagine ever doing that. Perhaps there's some sort of boundary gene that certain people have which leads them in to paths like IT which can partially account for the groupings this article laid out? But maybe I'm just a picky eater! Honestly, it takes me forever to make a decision at a restaurant, usually where I can see pictures of the food ahead of time. To just somewhat randomly grab something and eat it has no appeal. To spend time rummaging around 10 different bags/boxes to find what I wanted seems even more intrusive and wrong than I could fathom...
    • by shayne321 (106803) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @12:21PM (#15989838) Homepage Journal
      I was a victim of this, I find it just as bizarre as you. A couple of years back I met a friend at california pizza kitchen for lunch.. That day I only ate half my pizza, and brought the leftovers back to the office, thinking I'd stash them in the fridge and have lunch the following day. So the following day I arrive to work about 11:30am, and I walk in the break room and it smells of recently reheated pizza. I think "nah, no way" and head to my desk. About 2pm I head in for lunch, and sure enough 2 of the 3 slices that were in the CPK box are gone. I'm furious. Really mad. My name was plastered all over the box, it's not like it could have happened accidentally. So I figured the culprit would eventually return for the last slice since they enjoyed the first two so much. Time was limited, so I did the best thing I could come up with on short notice. I took the pizza to my desk, and looked in the janitor's closet for the nastiest industrial degreaser I could find. I took it back to my desk and REALLY soaked the pizza.. Sprayed it several times on the top and bottom over a period of half an hour so it'd REALLY get soaked in. My hope was the person wouldn't notice it until they took the first bite. So I stash the whole thing back in the fridge.. Sure enough, the following morning I find the CPK box in the trash, and sitting on top of it the last slice with a single bite taken out of it. Revenge never felt so sweet, and I never had anything else stolen from the kitchen. :) The bastard ruined my lunch, I felt pretty vindicated in ruining their snack.
      • If you cause any serious illness, you can get your ass sued off, regardless of the fact that your "victim" shouldn't have been eating stolen pizza in the first place.

        Did you ever see the movie "Home Alone"? In today's world, those burglars would end up making far more money from personal injury lawsuits than they ever could have stolen from one house.
  • by RealGrouchy (943109) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @11:50AM (#15989701)
    ...are you saying that IT workers are allowed to eat lunches?

    That changes everything...

    - RG>
  • by MolecularBear (469572) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @11:50AM (#15989706)
    I am getting sick of all these incomprehensibly esoteric articles. I like science, but sometimes the posts on slashdot are just too technical for me. This article on stealing lunches is a case in point. The pages and pages of analyses, the incredibly detailed social models that they used to arrive at their conclusions, the dogs eating lunches... it's a bit much for the layperson to grasp in one sitting. Editors: could we please get something a little lighter next time?
  • Steal my lunch (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MajorDick (735308) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @11:58AM (#15989745)
    I had someone stealing my lunch for quite some time, SO I took the advice of my boss, he was ex military his suggesion was cook a pack of exlax in brownies and put the brownie in my lunch.

    I did

    It was stolen

    All I can do is assume it was eaten since my lunch was never stolen again.

    NOW Before all the goddam whiners start barking about liablity, and poisioning and the like remmeber theis was MY lunch meant to be eaten or discarded my ME, and it was STOLEN.

    Its sad I have to add that but it seems the kind of world we are in where all the know it alls have to bark up and say something they fell makes them look like they know something

    THE ONLY THING thats important to know is that if you STEAL MY LUNCH YOU WILL SUFFER.
    • by mikemcc (4795)
      Kudos to you! To turn the shit who's stealing your food into an incontinent shit is excellent behavior modification.
    • by Xugumad (39311)
      > NOW Before all the goddam whiners start barking about liablity, and poisioning and the like remmeber theis was MY lunch meant to be eaten or discarded my ME, and it was STOLEN.

      The answer, of course, is to make everyone (except lunch stealer) happy by sticking a label on it that says:

      's lunch, DO NOT EAT
    • Re:Steal my lunch (Score:5, Interesting)

      by malkavian (9512) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @12:28PM (#15989869) Homepage
      Had the same thing as a student. So I set up a pack of chocolate digestives (replaced the choccie ones with standard digestives coated with ex lax). Morning after, I came down to find the biscuits gone.
      On the walk in to Uni, I discovered who it was that had been stealing the biscuits. And no, he didn't make it to a lavatory in time.
      My food was pretty much left alone after that.
      The bit I found perplexing was that this chap was a hard core Christian (born again, I think). He was the last one I expected it to be..
      • Re:Steal my lunch (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Dun Malg (230075) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @12:52PM (#15989967) Homepage
        The bit I found perplexing was that this chap was a hard core Christian (born again, I think). He was the last one I expected it to be..
        A friend of mine works as a teacher at a private college and his observation is that the worst thieves (everything from simply stealing food to swiping scanners, computers, etc) are all kinda weirdo born-agains. His theory is that the greater someone's propensity towards immoral behavior, the greater likelihood that they'll seek some sort of organized system that in theory "forces" them to act morally. Just as one finds people with a hard-core capacity for drinking at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting (which is all about NOT drinking), it's not at all illogical to expect to find people with a tendency towards immoral behavior attracted to a very strict religious organization.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by badfish99 (826052)
          Another explanation may be that this sort of Christianity makes people think that they are morally superior to other people who are not "born again", and therefore they begin to feel (perhaps subconsciously) that other people do not matter. This would fit in with the observation that highly-paid managers are also more likely to steal, as they also regard themselves as superior.
      • by symbolic (11752)
        The bit I found perplexing was that this chap was a hard core Christian

        I wonder if he still is....

        And no, he didn't make it to a lavatory in time.

        I mean, wouldn't you be praying for a miracle in a situation like that?
    • by ChePibe (882378) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @12:50PM (#15989961)
      To avoid any possible liability issues and the trouble of having to cook up ex-lax brownies, you could've just run to the store and picked up the hottest peppers you could find and soak just about everything in Jalapeños. That gets the message across immediately, and makes the culprit much easier to identify. If he complains, just say you like really spicy food.

      Not that I've ever tried that or anything...
      • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @03:14PM (#15990540)

        ...and soak just about everything in Jalapeños

        Use both laxative and Jalapenos,
        and replace the toilet paper in the bathroom with rabid gerbils.

        Few things are as painful as wiping your burning anus with a rabid gerbil.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by johnw (3725)
          Few things are as painful as wiping your burning anus with a rabid gerbil.

          I'll take your word for it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Dasher42 (514179)
        No, man, not jalapeños, habañeros. Those things will sneak up on the thief about a minute after and then give him a kick in the pants.
  • by kingsqueak (18917) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @12:00PM (#15989748)
    I worked in the public sector for a number of years.

    You could bring in food in a Tupperware bowl, leftovers prepared by who knows who and handled in who knows what manner and people would actually eat it! The thought of eating anything left in a fridge by a stranger just makes me shudder.

    The habits of civil-servants never ceased to amuse, a herd of animals is the best way I can describe it. Filthy, filthy people. Shameless.

    They used to have to pay housekeeping extra so that the restrooms would be cleaned three or four times in an eight hour shift and they were still dirtier than the restrooms in Penn Station.

    There has to be some sort of psychology that attracts people to government jobs. It would be an amazing study to do.
    • by legojenn (462946)
      That really must be a different government than the one I work in. Then again, you're probably just making stuff up. If anything, I find the communal fridges a cesspool because people put things in them and forget to take them out creating a primordial soup of half-finished lunches and leftovers from meetings. The washrooms, however, are clean.
  • /. is stealing headlines from Lew Rockwell [lewrockwell.com].
  • Size matters (Score:3, Insightful)

    by imaginaryelf (862886) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @12:23PM (#15989850)
    The size of the company matters. I've been in very small and very large companies. In the smaller companies, there's a feeling of camaraderie - like we're all in this together - so there's almost no stealing. In a large company, things disappear if you don't lock it down.
  • Ick. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sulli (195030) * on Sunday August 27, 2006 @12:31PM (#15989879) Journal
    Who steals the lunches in the office fridge? You have NO idea what's there or how long it's been there!
  • by Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @12:32PM (#15989891)
    Some jackass kept stealing my tuna sandwich...I mean once in a while would still be annoying, but EVERY damn time was just an open declaration of war. So I made a big fat tuna sandwich with a healthy amount of "FancyFeast". I used chicken and liver flavor to make sure the point got across. So in the fridge it goes and I came back an hour or two later and it was gone. The next morning, I found an anonymous post-it note on the door of the fridge asking people to please discard "old and potentially rancid" food from the refigerator since it was a "health hazard."

    Since then, my sandwich has been safe. Nobody ever owned up to the thefts or the note. :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by runningduck (810975)
      I myself never put food in the community fridge, but many others had been complaining about missing food items. I thought I would help out all the poor souls so one day I put catfood in all the lunches to teach that stealing bugger a lesson. I think it worked because the complaining stopped.
  • Dye... (Score:4, Funny)

    by HairyCanary (688865) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @12:49PM (#15989958)
    After the last time my lunch was stolen out of the break room fridge, I thought that perhaps next time I would put in a bit of bait food that was laced with blue dye. Food coloring, of course, so it would be harmless. Then for the next couple of days at work we could all easily identify the lunch thief by the blue stains around his mouth. LOL.

    Haven't tried it yet, though.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Detritus (11846)
      An old theft detection technique is dusting the item with powdered Gentian violet [wikipedia.org]. When it gets wet, it produces a violet stain that is very difficult to remove.
  • by JensR (12975) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @01:04PM (#15990008) Homepage
    Sorry, but I don't understand it at all how somebody can have his lunch regularly stolen. I'd let this happen once, assuming it was an accident. But if my lunch disappeared regularly I'd raise a major stink: Post-Its on the fridge, memos, speak with HR, etc. And I'd find out who it was, and have a "word" with him before reporting him to HR.

  • by NetFusion (86828) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @01:19PM (#15990067)
    I use to have this problem till I discovered Mr Yuk [google.com].

    Now I just put the Mr Yuk on my cans and lunch bags and noone dares touch them in the staff fridge.
  • by tm2b (42473) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @02:06PM (#15990261) Journal
    It's just that IT departments tend to have the highest percentage of employees who remember being beaten up and having their lunch money taken from them!
  • by polyex (736819) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @02:48PM (#15990425)
    We had a problem with stealing food at work, someone was stealing this guys apple, orange, etc. Whatever fruit he had brought for lunch and left in the fridge went missing. So after a few emails asking that the thief stop went unheeded, we simply sent an email informing the last fruit stolen had spent the night before in mens urinal. That stopped the stealing cold.
  • Spit (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wideBlueSkies (618979) * on Sunday August 27, 2006 @03:17PM (#15990566) Journal
    At one job, we had the same thing...a lowly lunch thief. I'd find sometimes that if I worked through luch hour due to some problem, or if I left my food in the fridge overnight it would dissapear.

    So I started dropping my saliva in my sadwiches and lunch containers. No warning notes, no nothing just spit.

    The lunch thief never really stopped, but I minded a little less knowing I was giving away a little piece of myself as well. Especially when I had colds and such.

    Sure it's disgusting..but the person shouldn't have been stealing.

    People like this also make it impossible to have a functioning coffee club. They always steal the milk and make coffee without paying in...unfortunately the spit solution doesn't work with 'community food' like milk and coffee beans.
  • by Mike_ya (911105) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @03:46PM (#15990682) Homepage
    While IT doesn't steal food, if a department has food they want to get rid of without throwing it away they call IT.
    We love the free food.
  • Heros????? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @04:18PM (#15990783)
    We have to regularly lynch a random member of our IT department as a message to the rest to keep those Microsoft-loving bastards in line. We used to put their heads on pikes but the county health inspector told us to quit it.
  • Dogs will do that. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Sunday August 27, 2006 @05:05PM (#15990931) Journal
    I've had a dog do the exact same thing. It may show something about the psychology of people who steal lunches -- this dog was incredibly loyal, always happy -- but had no problem with doing something he knew he wasn't supposed to do, so long as he thought he could get away with it, and would perform pretty much any trick you asked, as long as he thought you had a treat for him afterwards.

    I've known people like that.
  • All About Trust (Score:5, Informative)

    by queenb**ch (446380) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @11:03PM (#15991963) Homepage Journal
    Most IT people hold and are held to an ethical standard that doesn't exist in say, sales. We have access to salary data simply because we can talk straight to the HR database. We know that Suzie is pregnant because we saw the email when we were looking at the damage done by the virus she double clicked on. We know that Bobby is surfing porn during his lunch hour. Mostly we don't care.

    Oh, and if you are one of the sales guys who's been eating my lunch, well...I've only got one word for you. WOOF!

    2 cents,

    QueenB

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