stolen lunches, missing mugs, and other petty office thefts: share your stories

Workplace thefts are usually a lot pettier than Monday’s letter about the person who stole an intern’s jacket.

Like this from a commenter recently: “I have a Bath and Body eucalyptus (mini) hand sanitizer next to my computer. Turns out someone has used it up, then refilled it with water so it wouldn’t look like it was used. It costs a buck.”

Or this: “I had someone steal my pyrex dish once. They dumped my lunch out into a little baggy, put that back in the fridge, and stole my dang dish. WHO DOES THAT!?”

Or this: “Someone in the office even stole a coworker’s mug! He had left it on the counter while he went to the bathroom before he got his coffee and it was gone when he came back. TWO YEARS LATER he found it soaking in the sink after the thief had used it and promptly ‘stole’ it back. He was very excited.”

Of course there also was the letter about the coworker who stole someone’s spicy food and got sick (and the epic update), the manager who stole someone’s family heirloom, the boss who stole an employee’s iPad, and the boss who kept stealing lunches.

So let’s talk office thefts — petty and not-so-petty. What have you found stolen at work? Even better, if you’ve been the perpetrator, now is the time to confess anonymously here and seek salvation. Share in the comments.

{ 1,959 comments… read them below }

    1. Naomi*

      I just wonder about the logistics of that! It’s not like you can slip a monitor into your pocket. How does someone walk off with one without being spotted?

      1. Ange*

        Back in the day when flatscreens were £1000+ each, we came in one Monday to find all our flatscreens had been replaced with non-flatscreens. We thought it was IT at first cos they were prone to changing things round with no notice. My boss called the police and got yelled at by the head of security (who refused to let him view the CCTV on the grounds that “there was no point”) so we all assumed someone in security was in on it. Never found out who or how, though.

        1. Middle Name Jane*

          Wait, wait, wait. If the police were called, how could the head of security (of the building?) refuse to let the police view the security camera footage? Couldn’t the police compel them through a warrant or something?

          1. SusanIvanova*

            Head of security claimed it was a mistake? And since they’re security, the police would believe them.

          2. PhyllisB*

            I think she meant security wouldn’t let the BOSS view the footage. I’m sure they couldn’t refuse to let the police view it if requested.

    2. Mike C.*

      Oh, let me clarify – they’re stolen for use at their own desks. Like people will wander by one area, take a few monitors, and they set them up at their own desks.

      The place is massive and people are moving all the time, so it’s hard to catch.

      1. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

        We hid ours in a storage room if they weren’t in use. We were worried anything supply-related (monitors, mouses, keyboards) on an empty desk was fair game after all the upheaval (multiple department moves over months).

        1. Mabel*

          This reminds me of some thefts that happened a few years ago. My colleague and friend was on vacation in China, and while she was there, her father, who lives there, became ill, and she had to stay for a few more weeks. While she was away, one of the managers – of another team told people – incorrectly – that my friend was laid off or reassigned to a different client (I can’t remember which). So people started taking things from her desk. I told the manager that she was wrong and that my friend was away due to a family emergency, but she didn’t seem to care, and she didn’t correct the story she had started in the office. Our friends and I had to run around and collect all of her things – some were company-owned, like tape, stapler, etc., but some were her personal property. Someone took her bamboo plant and let it completely dry out. It lived in a big vase full of water, so letting it get dry would clearly cause problems for the plant. I ended up with that plant when she finally did leave the company, but it never recovered from the neglect.

        1. Mike C.*

          They certainly do! But with all the movement and reorgs and whatnot, it becomes very difficult to track. They only seem to care about that sort of thing when it comes to laptops. No one touches those.

          1. Just Jess*

            This sounds so similar to my current org. It’s so disorganized and dysfunctional here that I wouldn’t be shocked to find out about an unsolved murder because “Security never asked Operations for the funds to get new cameras” or “Operations never told IT to install the new cameras” etc.

      2. LCL*

        Ah yes, the redistribution of company purchased tools. Justified by ‘I’m not stealing it, I’m using it for work.’ Just imagine how this plays out as applied to keeping company vehicles stocked. I keep threatening to RFID the more mobile tools, there are services that offer it. Not to bust someone, but to go to the vehicle that has 3 when we are supposed to stock 1, and return it to the correct vehicle.

      3. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        This reminds me a little of moving back into the dorms in the fall at college – you wanted to get there early, so if your room didn’t have the “good kind” of desk (with the keyboard tray), desk chair (that tilted back slightly) or mattress (a bit newer and springier) you could trade them with the ones in an empty room down the hall. It didn’t feel like stealing if no one lived there yet…

      4. VDub13*

        I swear you work for my company. Monitors are taken here a lot also. Some people have up to 4 monitors. smh

        1. A Programmer*

          *chuckling sheepishly while looking around at the 4 monitors and 4 tablets currently on my desk* (none of them stolen btw) In my job two monitors per computer is generally considered a minimum and many of us have reason to need two PCs. The tablets you gotta keep an eye on though, I learned pretty quickly that borrowed devices generally don’t come back unless you go find them.

          1. John B Public*

            Something I let people borrow I usually ask for their car keys in return. Either they don’t really need it or I’m guaranteed to get it back.

      5. nonegiven*

        At one place my son worked, they were told to take their laptops home at night to keep them from being stolen. Pretty sure the monitors were locked down.

    3. Turquoise Cow*

      When I first started at my old job I didn’t have a desk for about two weeks (everyone was moving around) and when I did start they gave me a new computer with a flat screen. Everyone else had old computers with CRT monitors. Ooh did some of the old timers get mad. I half expected it to be stolen at some point. Of course, if it was, it would have been very easy to identify the culprit.

      1. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

        This reminds me of when my position at OldJob was first allowed to have a laptop instead of a desktop. People who had roles that had traditionally been ones that allowed remote work had ancient laptops – ones passed down from their predecessors. Since there was no laptop to pass down to me, I got a brand new one. Cue the outrage!

        1. Turquoise Cow*

          One old guy said he REALLY needed one, and it had nothing to do with me, it was because his eyes were bad. Which was probably partly true, but he complained a lot less about it before I came along.

        2. memyselfandi*

          My OldJob kept a priority list of who had the oldest computer equipment. Since we were largely grant funded and funds for equipment were hard to come by, whenever anyone had funds for new computers the equipment was purchased and the person with the oldest computer got the upgrade. It was the only way to keep everyone roughly within the same generation of technology. Of course, from time to time there were funds from overhead to support computer upgrades.

    4. Melissa C.*

      This reminds me of my first job, where everyone had a Mac mini. Some of the keyboards were nicer than others, and I came in after about 2 weeks on the job to find that someone had swapped my nice, new keyboard with their old one. I could immediately tell who did it though, because her keyboard was COVERED in bronzer and she was the only one who wore that much makeup. I just waited one night until she was gone and swapped them back.

      1. Specialk9*

        At OldJob, they built out a fancy new office with really nice chairs, Herman Miller, for everyone. They got a call from Herman Miller. Hey, your chairs keep coming up on eBay. Turns out someone was just rolling a chair out to his car every day and seeking them. But the chair company monitors eBay and buys their chairs that get posted, checks the serial numbers, and pings the company who bought them. So, nice racket, for a little while.

        1. entrylevelsomething*

          I had no idea Herman Miller did that. It’s super nice, but I wonder why. A way to weed out fakes?

          1. cheeky*

            Perhaps, but also, Herman Miller and other office furniture companies often lease their equipment to companies, so they probably also look for diverted/stolen assets.

    5. Samiratou*

      Any monitor left in an open cube (eg. where someone has left the company) is fair game, but stealing from someone’s actual desk is Not Done.

      1. Middle Name Jane*

        Oh, I will raid a vacant cube/office for nice office supplies and whatnot, but I would never take something from a a cube or office of someone who still worked for the company. That’s wrong.

      2. TootsNYC*

        I wouldn’t take a monitor–those are too high-end. And the IT folks need to keep track.

        I’d swap chairs, or staplers, though.

      3. Steve*

        One time after a layoff I collected something like 14 unused monitors and set them up next to my two to make a 16 monitor system. They weren’t hooked up but I still felt like a day trader/online poker player. IT new where they were and when we started staffing back up, kept coming back to my office to grab a couple.

      4. SusanIvanova*

        We had a bunch of open cubes nearby where we had computers set up as a small server farm, because when you write server software you need to have them nearby for the inevitable hard restart, not out of reach in the server room.

        Late one evening we notice that a phone has been plugged into one – not just someone’s random personal phone, but the special ones that the security guys carry. Naturally we call security to report strange equipment plugged into a server – why, it might be reading files and sending them outside the company! (Which we didn’t believe was the case here, of course – test servers don’t even have real data – but that is the sort of thing that our security is very concerned about.)

        Another security guy collects the phone. We find out later that the first guy’s excuse was he needed a charge and thought the cube was unoccupied. Technically yes, but with a running computer in it?

      5. Electron Wisperer*

        Our engineering department (Where everyone runs at least two monitors, often three) are not above swiping the ones from the desk of anyone in the department who goes on holiday, it has gotten to be something of a game, and it is expected that on return from hols you will find your three 4k 26″ replaced with whatever old junk was kicking around (We manufacture TV broadcast gear, there are always old monitors kicking around).

        Trick then is to figure out who mysteriously has 4 or 5 screens and then swipe the best two of theirs that evening (Bonus if the best of theirs is better then your originals), nobody will say anything…
        Yea, engineers can be childish like that.

        ‘Scope probes and clips are also routinely fair game at any time.

        Regards, Dan.

    6. Gen*

      I used to live with a guy who once left his office with a massive CRT monitor up his sweatershirt. He was surprised when security apprehended him. I’ll never understand how he though people wouldn’t notice the square lump

        1. SusanIvanova*

          That’s how some thieves got away with stealing big screen TVs from box stores! Just wear the right polo and khaki and nobody notices.

      1. JennyFair*

        My mother worked undercover retail security for sixteen years. She told me men will stick anything down the front of their pants and assume no one will notice. Once, a man stole a box of old 5.5″ floppy discs…and thought no one would notice his, um, square package.

          1. Glacier*

            I’ve been reading this blog for years, and think this might be the funniest comment I’ve ever read.

    7. MashaKasha*

      I had that happen once. At an OldJob long ago, after a few years and a lot of networking, I was finally given the largest CRT monitor they had, 24″, iirc. One summer, OldJob hired a company to redo the roof on the office building. The contractors apparently took a portion of the roof off and went home for the day, and that evening, the area got hit by a heavy lake-effect rain storm. We came in the next morning to find the entire building flooded and were given 30 min to pick up our belongings, and told not to worry about the computer equipment, the company would move it to our new locations. I walked into my assigned cubicle in the building next door, and was greeted by something like a 15 inch monitor. I made inquiries. I had a good friend in the desktop support group, who would’ve liked to be more than friends, if both of us weren’t married. My friend did some stealth investigating, and, in his own words, “I walked into this guy’s office in the legal department and he had two 24″ monitors in his office. We’ve never given two of those to anyone. I figured one of them was yours, so I took it. Here it is.”

      I also had a coworker steal my office chair at an even earlier OldJob. The woman who mentored me when I started there, transferred to another floor soon after, and gave me her old chair as she was getting a new one. Nice, cushy chair with armrests. The next day, I came back from lunch, my nice chair was gone, and a cheapo chair with no armrests was in its place. It was an open-office area, so I found it fairly quickly, with another coworker sitting in it. I walked up to her at the end of the day and nicely asked if she was done with my chair, because I needed it back. Didn’t expect any results, because I was new and she had her friends sitting around her to back her up. Oddly enough, I got the chair back right away, and no one took it from me again.

      1. Starbuck*

        Ooh, I like that tactic of assuming they were planning on returning it anyway when you ask for the chair back. It’s like you’re doing them a favor by picking it up instead of having them roll it back! Very clever.

        1. sstabeler*

          It’s probably partly that it gives them a graceful out- “oops, sorry, I was borrowing it for a while while you didn’t need it- here, have it back-” so they can at least claim officially that they hadn’t stolen it. Hence, they’re less likely to argue back. (bringing it up, on the other hand, is why they never took your stuff again- they knew they’d be caught)

      2. 2 Cents*

        We used to mark our chairs with taped-on sticky notes to the bottom because the salespeople, who were given smaller chairs, would try to assume one of the support staff office chairs as their own. Except they’d never think to check underneath.

      3. Arjay*

        I’ve told this story before here, but I attached my chair to my desk with a dog leash because people kept stealing it to use in the conference room next door.

        1. AMPG*

          When my old office installed a lactation room, they had to send out more than one reminder to people to stop taking all the chairs for meetings in the conference room across the hall.

    8. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      A few years ago my department was being moved into a newly renovated office space on campus. People from around campus started to circle like vultures asking about stuff they wanted to claim…”So are you taking your chairs?” type of stuff. Yes of course; we’re just moving offices not being eliminated. The head of campus security came in and actually stated to my boss that he was going to get our very large Apple monitors (for his IBM computer??). He seemed really confused that we would be keeping them and taking them with us. A 6-foot whiteboard from my boss’ office did end up “misplaced.”

      1. SusanIvanova*

        Apple monitors haven’t used proprietary cables for over a decade; it would work fine on the IBM.

        When my team got replaced the vultures didn’t have a chance; we’d already made arrangements to transfer stuff to the other teams we worked with.

  1. radiolady*

    I had a small bottle of Tory Burch perfume in the desk drawer of my desk, inside of my office. We are a small radio station with 6 full time employees (mostly male and over the age of 70), and three high school part timers that work during the nights/weekends. Never could prove who it was, but one of those part timers always smelled like Tory Burch from then on…she quit with no notice shortly after. And food…always disappearing food.

    1. Parcae*

      Amazing. Imagine if the recent jacket thief had gotten away with it, then casually started wearing the jacket to the office.

      As best I can remember, I’ve never had anything stolen from me at work. Either I’ve been incredibly lucky, or no one likes my stuff!

      1. Bostonian*

        Right? The person who was stolen from is going to know EXACTLY what it smells like.

        On the other hand, there’s always plausible deniability in “I liked that scent so much, I bought it for myself.”

          1. radiolady*

            To clarify, our interactions were VERY limited. I am the morning show host, and she worked mostly nights. We did cross paths, but it was rare.

    2. Amy G. Golly*

      Oh God, at my current job, any food that is not nailed down is IMMEDIATELY consumed as if by a plague of locusts! I’ve worked in public libraries for years, so I’ve long been familiar with the culture of communal food – there’s leftovers from a meeting/party/program, or someone brings in treats. But it was always the norm to label food that was up-for-grabs – if it didn’t specifically say “take some!” then you didn’t touch it. Writing your name on food was more so they knew who to bother if that carton of take-out started growing mold.

      Then I started this job, where the default is, “If there’s no name on it, it’s up for grabs!” I learned that lesson the hard way when I left the remains of my lunch in the fridge for just a few hours only to find it completely decimated.

      1. Life is Good*

        At my old dysfunctional workplace, clients would gift the WHOLE office with fancy chocolates and toffee, baskets of cookies and meat and cheese trays during the holidays. The big boss would grab them as soon as they were set down, before they were opened, and take them to “re-gift” to someone on his gift list.

        1. Otis ELE*

          Same at my office – except big boss takes them home to share with his family. A lot of times we never even see them arrive. Makes it awkward when you suspect a client has sent a gift to you but you never got it…

        2. Chaordic One*

          One year the mail room received a “Seasons Greetings” card from the White House addressed to a former employee. Since the intended recipient no longer worked there (he had been on a panel and did get to meet the president), the mail clerk put it on display in the mail room, but then the company president’s secretary spotted it and took it up to the company president’s office and we never saw it again.

          Happy Holidays!

          1. radiolady*

            We get t shirts and other promotional materials from sports teams we are affiliated with. They are for on air giveaways, and of course the staff can get some too. Boss takes the boxes home as soon as they arrive, doles it out to his son’s baseball team and coaches, and then brings the leftovers back to the station. He owns the place, so I guess he can do what he wants.

            1. radiolady*

              To clarify, through our affiliate agreements, the promo materials belong to the station, so he isn’t violating the affiliate agreement.

      2. Merci Dee*

        On occasion, management here will order pizzas early in the day to provide lunch for the line workers and the office staff. After one or two incidents, management had to have stern talks with the different groups of line workers — the pizza place would drop off the pizzas about 20 or 30 minutes before lunch time, and the pies would be distributed among the break rooms around the plant, based on the number of employees who used them for the lunch break. Apparently, some folks would hit the break rooms about 10 minutes before lunch time, and would walk off with 7 or 8 whole pizzas each. So there wouldn’t be enough to go around when everyone took their lunch breaks. The General Admin manager opened a break room door to check on the set-up right as 3 of the line guys were trying to strong-arm their combined 21 pizzas out the door, and he absolutely flipped. I don’t think there have been any more pizza purchases since that discovery.

        1. Rebecca in Dallas*

          Ugh, some people are the worst! When I was a manager at a department store, the company would pay for catered food one day during the holiday season. We would arrange for several deliveries throughout the day, since we had people working morning, afternoon and evening shifts. The morning shift people would eat at their normal lunchtime, then I would catch some of them coming back to the break room after their shift (ie when the afternoon shift’s meal was arriving) and just taking as much food with them as they could carry!

        2. Floundering Mander*

          Ugh, this reminds me of a big company party we had in a pub where the people who were in the back room next to the buffet table loaded up their plates with a ridiculous amount of food. We had roast chicken drumsticks as the main appetizer, and some people had 6 or more on their plates. The entire pub was full of employees, and by the time the people who were sitting in the front managed to squeeze into the back there was nothing left.

          So management ordered a second round of snacks, but the people who had eaten the first lot did the same thing again! It was incredibly rude.

        3. Normally A Lurker*

          OMG. I used to work at a resturant. On the three busiest days of the year (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Valentines), the 7 best waiters (me included) used to work doubles, so we worked from 9a to 11p straight through. (Yes, I know, illegal. But also, 3 days a year and you knew what you were getting into, and they never forced any of us – they asked if we wanted the double.)

          Anyway, the manager would always order pizza for the people who worked doubles to eat around 3.30-4. Which, as luck would have it, is literally the time the 2nd shift started.

          I can’t tell you how many times I walked into empty pizza boxes bc I was on the floor and the people who had JUST gotten to work were finishing up their 3rd slice.

          Eventually, management started locking it in the office, and giving the ppl with doubles the key to the office to go take a 15 min break and eat. Whatever was left after all of us had eaten became communal.

  2. Former Retail Manager*

    During the holidays, when the special flavored creamers come out, I usually keep one in the fridge consistently for those last 3 or 4 months of the year. When my first one disappeared, I thought it might have been a victim of an unannounced fridge clean-out. By creamer #4, I was convinced that someone was stealing them. I never found out who it was, but I no longer bring fancy creamer. It just seems odd to me because the stuff was gone each time by 10:00am and the person presumably didn’t leave work until at least 3 or 4 and it’s supposed to remain refrigerated. Did you hide it in your desk? Just weird.

    1. DecorativeCacti*

      I don’t drink coffee but one of my coworkers brings her own and leaves it in her lunchbox. One time she went to use some and it was empty. She hadn’t even opened it yet.

    2. SJ*

      It’s so ballsy to steal food from a communal kitchen. Like… anyone could walk in while you’re doing it! Anyone!!!

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Sure, but not everyone will know you’re stealing. Only the owner would, probably.

        Reading these stories reinforces my ‘bring it in my own cooler’ mantra.

      2. Red*

        My ex-coworker got caught with her hand literally in a coworker’s food container. Turns out that she never bought breakfast but regularly snacked on other people’s lunches in the kitchen WITH HER BARE HANDS! She got fired a few weeks later for coming into work drunk.

          1. Hamsa*

            My friend was a strict dieter and needed her exact amounts of food & drink where she left it, so, she would put her milk in a Motts apple juice bottle (brown) it made the milk look weird and she labelled it her “brew”, it scared the milk thieves away.

        1. Happy Lurker*

          One of those “I have 7 coffee’s a day”. Now I get it…it’s coffee flavored milk. I really just never thought about it before, since I am from a long line of black coffee drinkers.

    3. SoCalHR*

      Creamers are the worst! People think they can just constantly free load off your creamer. Its one thing to run out of your own and be in a pinch one day, but not ongoing. At one office I started buying the big bottles at home but would bring a smaller amount to work in a cleaned out water bottle or jar. I feel like that helped reduce theft. Maybe because the bottle was clear and more noticeable if you took some or because it just looked like some mystery liquid (they can’t be all “ooooh peppermint mocha, that sounds sooo good, I’ll just take a little).

      1. bb-great*

        I think I’ve told this story on here before, but my mom combated the creamer thieves by pouring her Coffee-Mate into a Rubbermaid reusable drink container…and labeling it “breast milk.” Worked like a charm! She did however get caught pouring it into her coffee once and had some explaining to do.

          1. bb-great*

            She just explained her plan and the coworker was suitably impressed. I should add that there were no new mothers at the office and it was a small enough place that everyone should have known that, but I guess no one wanted to take the risk.

        1. medium of ballpoint*

          That’s a great idea! I’ve started buying the individual containers (like the ones at the gas station) and keeping them in my desk because they don’t need to be refrigerated.

          1. SoCalHR*

            I actually do the same thing now, Medium of Ballpoint – but mostly because I’m not always in the office (although it sounds like we do have an active creamer-thief here, so its probably a good plan anyway).

      2. Kat M.*

        I especially hate this because I used to bring in non-dairy creamer for myself and a couple of lactose-intolerant colleagues. No matter how many pleading explanations that there is PLENTY of creamer available for other people to use, NONE of which I can consume, folks just didn’t seem to want to walk 15 feet into the next room to get it when they could reach into the fridge for my soy creamer instead.

        I eventually just stopped bringing it and started drinking tea at work instead of coffee.

    4. SpicyCoffee*

      This kept happening to one of our employees. His solution: he put his name on it, along with the words “NOT COMMUNAL!” and then… replaced about 1/4 of the bottle with this insane hot sauce. It was brilliant, and really easy to spot the culprit! Karma!

      1. AwkwardKaterpillar*

        I had this problem once, I wrote on it ‘Not Creamer’ it was shocking how long it lasted after that.

          1. Bostonienne*

            In my office, breastmilk, the real deal and labeled as such, was stolen once (not mine, which I kept in a cooler in my office).

      2. lamuella*

        I remember reading of someone doing a science experiment with his office fridge. Each week he would buy a 2 pint bottle of milk and put it in the communal fridge, and would vary what was written on it, whether it was opened, etc, to see how that would affect whether it was stolen. His conclusions, as I remember them:

        An open bottle gets pilfered a lot more quickly than an unopened bottle.
        An unlabelled bottle gets pilfered a lot more quickly than a labelled one
        A name on a bottle is more effective than initials in stopping pilfering
        A man’s name is more effective than a woman’s in stopping pilfering
        Decanting milk from a store bottle into your own container considerably reduces pilfering

        and my favourite:

        The best thing to write on a bottle of milk to stop people stealing it? “MILK EXPERIMENT”

        1. Specialk9*

          I so love the mental image of the tireless science experiment approach to office creamer pilferers. If you find that link, I’d love to read it!

      3. Specialk9*

        Hot sauce in the creamer is great. Unless you’re that guy who got fired for having his spicy lunch stolen (though can I just say how satisfying that resolution was??).

        1. sstabeler*

          actually, I disagree. If you’re adding a substance- regardless of what the substance is- there’s the implication that you want the food thief to get hurt (mouth seems like it’s on fire due to hot sauce in the creamer, allergic reaction due to added allergen, laxatives speak for themselves) while the guy who got fired alwasy ate spicy food.

          Conversely, I have little-to-no problem with labelling your food in a way to get the thief to reconsider (I’d be careful about claiming your food contained an allergen, but something like “WARNING-SPICY”…) even though the food is undoctored.

      1. DDJ*

        Anything that looks like cream/creamer, I bring in a mason jar. Because people won’t know if it’s soy or almond or milk or cream or creamer…and I don’t seem to have any issues. I did have a few issues when I brought it in the creamer bottles, unfortunately.

    5. Jane Eyre*

      This happened to a former coworker. She always brought creamer in for everyone to use but with the stipulation that you couldn’t finish off the carton and leave her with none. Pretty reasonable policy. Apparently someone took offense and started swiping the entire carton! Each time she replaced it, it would vanish. One day, she secretly brought creamer in a kiddy sippy cup. You guessed it — vanished that same week. It was utterly amazing. We never did discover the thief.

      1. Church Lady*

        I temped for a huge insurance company a few years ago and someone stole my pint carton of half and half with my name on it the same morning I brought it in, sometime after I opened it. Bastards.

    6. Obi-wan's wife*

      I’d transfer it to a container that didn’t identify it as anything special, say like plain soy milk or other random identifier, and see how long it lasts.

    7. eilatan*

      One of the wings at my office is full of temporary contractors and they don’t bring in their own half and half. Instead, they were using mine (clearly labeled) and it was being consumed much faster than should have been. Moved it to the smaller fridge in the same centrally located communal kitchen, and the thievery ceased. I honestly don’t mind someone using it because they’ve run out, but to just keep using someone else’s because you’re too lazy to stop by Wawa on your way to work is not cool.

    8. Red 5*

      At our office, we often have a stash of single use creamers that are available to anyone to use. Sometimes brought in by a random co-worker, sometimes actually bought by the office. Like, we’re talking entire boxes of the stuff at a time dumped loose in the drawer.

      One day, I had been cleaning out the moldy food from the fridge, and noted that there was at least two dozen creamers hanging out in there, if not three dozen.

      The _next day_ there was absolutely not one single creamer in that fridge. Not one. When somebody asked if we had any, I went and looked myself and they were all gone.

      The only thing I can imagine is somebody just stuffing them into their jacket pockets and looking around to make sure they don’t get caught, then trying not to get too squashed on the subway on the way home since the creamers would explode.

    9. chi type*

      If you’re not the kind of person who’s really uptight about food you can just keep your “creamer” at your desk. There’s like 0% dairy in those International Delight-type NON-DAIRY creamers.
      That stuff is all soy and chemicals. Delicious, delicious soy and chemicals. Lol.

    10. ket*

      It’s not quite on-topic but too good not to share. Freshman year: first year of communal living, etc. Ice cream keeps getting stolen from the communal freezer. Repeated theft despite community discussion. Finally the boys who had the ice cream found a roadkill squirrel, got a bit container of vanilla, dug it out, tucked in the squirrel, and covered it with the ice cream.

      The “squirrel fridge” lives in infamy. Theft stopped.

      1. LA*

        This is on-par with what my grandfather did as a kid when his lunches kept being stolen from his cubby. After a couple of weeks of stolen lunches, he went into the pasture and found a cow patty that would fit between two slices of bread, and packed that for his lunch.

        His lunch was never stolen again.

      2. shocked and awed*

        Oh my God. That is truly brutal. If I were the thief, I’d literally be put off ice cream for life.

  3. anon for this one*

    Once a colleague in a different office suite asked someone who worked in my suite to drop off a book she was lending me. The person who was supposed to deliver it decided to keep it for a few days so she could read it first. So, not really a theft, but definitely a joyride.

          1. MyInnerDemonLikesCookies*

            I’m a librarian and am going to totally drop that comment about “joyreading” in to a conversation as soon as I can. I can see it becoming a #joyread on Twitter, too.

    1. Amadeo*

      I had something like this happen at a clinic where I worked. We each had these little 12×12 cabinet cubbies we stored our belongings in before going back to the treatment area to work. It was at that point in time that Prisoner of Azkaban was new and I had the hardcover in my cubby to read at lunch.

      I walked into the break room at lunch time and one of the receptionists had it out reading it. Didn’t ask my permission, didn’t even poke her head into the treatment area to say that she was going to get it, just got into my cubby after my book and helped herself. I got a little tetchy with her and asked her not to do that ever again, but didn’t raise my voice. She went around telling everyone that I yelled at her for it. Dude, girl, if you had just ASKED ME if you could read my book while you ate, it would have been fine.

      1. Nan*

        oh noes! Books are off limits. No touchy my book! Especially if I haven’t read it yet. Nope. Nope. Nope.

        I would have been beyond angry.

        1. Jan*

          I had a floater covering my desk while I was on vacation. When I returned I notice a book I’d had on/in my desk was missing. When I emailed the floater she admitted that she had it and would return it when she was done reading it. Didn’t even ask! When weeks went by and I contacted her again, turns out she’d gone out on medical leave and wouldn’t be back for months!! What nerve!!

          1. frog*

            Wow! I had borrowed a book from a coworker with her full knowledge, then had to go on kind of last-minute medical leave. When I went in to meet with HR about the leave, I made sure to bring in the book, and asked that they return it to coworker for me, since I knew it was part of her favorite series. HR kind of laughed at me, like, why was I thinking of this issue, of all things, when going on medical leave, but I was like, well, I know how I’D feel if it were MY book, so. I can’t believe someone would be that blasé about not returning something they’d basically stolen in the first place.

            1. Not a Morning Person*

              Reminds me of a great scene from the movie “Out of Africa.” Robert Redford is explaining to Meryl Streep that he is cutting off a former friend for not returning a book. She says something like, “So you’d lose a friend over a book?” And he replies, “No, but he did.”

        2. LSP*

          I’d be much more upset about someone just going into my cubby without asking. I’m with Amadeo. Sure you can borrow the book, but you have to ask first, because taking people’s belongings without their permission is pretty much universally considered to be a “dick move”.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            If they take it without asking, they’re on my list of people never to loan anything to, because they obviously have no damn boundaries and I would not ever trust them with my stuff again.

          2. Amadeo*

            Yes, honestly this was my biggest problem with what she did. It’s possible that I’m just super territorial, but the fact that she just…got into my stuff and removed my book like it was something she was entitled to do was what really got under my skin. It was 10% about the book and 90% about the intrusion on my space.

            1. Amadeo*

              (of course, I am that sort of person where if I happen to catch you inside my home/things helping yourself, you can forget the damn dog, you need to be worrying about ME!)

        3. Future Analyst*

          My mother-in-law once came to visit “to help with the baby” and instead read my new book (without asking) before I got to it. I think it’s the angriest I’ve ever been at her, and she’s done some pretty crappy things.

          1. motherofdragons*

            That would drive me absolutely nuts! I can absolutely see my MIL doing something like this, and then spoiling the ending for me on top of it (which she’s done with TV shows before).

            1. Liz in a Library*

              I still remember my dad, upon seeing a preteen me reading Murder on the Orient Express, saying to me, “You know blank did it, right?” (I recognize we are probably past Agatha Christie spoilers, but just in case!)

              When I got mad, his response was just, “Well, it’s not like you believed me, right?”

              1. A Programmer*

                Actually I for one have to thank you for not spoiling it! That book is sitting on my bedside table at the moment but I’m putting off reading it until I can see the movie with my husband who just recently introduced me to Poirot.

              2. Cherith Ponsonby*

                I recognize we are probably past Agatha Christie spoilers, but just in case!

                Except for That Particular One with the Really Cool Twist, of course!

                I once accidentally read one of my neighbour’s birthday books (we were about 12) – it was a Babysitter’s Club book and I picked it up to see what it was about and the next thing I knew I was three chapters from the end. Luckily I’m a super-fast reader and I have the superpower of being able to read a book without breaking the spine, but still, dick move by Little Cherith there.

              3. spoiled :(*

                My mother did this once with a book I won’t name here. I mentioned I was reading it and she said, “Oh, that’s the one where the girl dies, right?”

                The book had one male lead and one female lead. I hadn’t gotten there yet. When I got mad, she fell back on her default, “It’s just fiction.”

              4. Jen*

                My dad did that to me with the Sixth Sense, and then again with the Green Mile. Wasn’t done maliciously, at least, but c’mon.

              5. Caitlin*

                Thank you for not spoiling! I just bought a copy of the book, in anticipation of the upcoming movie.

              6. Susan Ryan*

                I fixed my Dad for spoiling. I tore out the last chapter when I could tell he was almost to it and held it for ransom. He never told me who done it again.

        4. ss*

          My dad used to buy me books for holidays and have them professionally wrapped at the bookstore. Then he’d go home and VERY carefully slice open the tape at one end and slide the book out, read it himself, then slide the book back in and retape it before giving it to me as a gift.

      2. Kate*

        Nobody touches my Harry Potter!

        I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way about books. I had an officemate who used to “borrow” my textbooks all the time, without asking or even mentioning it, and then take them home. He was also in a LDR with his wife while they figured out the logistics of their careers, so sometimes I’d be looking for a book and wouldn’t get it back for weeks until he returned to the office. I finally said, “Hey, if you borrow one of my books, can you let me know so I know where it is if I’m looking for it?” And yep, that too got relayed as me “yelling” at him about it.

        1. Typhon Worker Bee*

          I’m still astonished that no-one stole my copy of Deathly Hallows. I pre-ordered it as soon as I could, but then ended up going out of town for a long weekend on the day it was released. Canada Post helpfully left the special edition Amazon box (covered in Hogwarts logos and the like) on my front step, fully visible from the very busy street, on the Friday morning, and it was STILL THERE when we got back into town on the Monday night. I couldn’t believe it. And yes, I did stay up all night reading it!

          1. Elizabeth West*

            That was the only one I stood in line for–until 2 am, at Barnes and Noble. Then I went home, slept, got up, went to skating practice, came home, and started reading. I began at 12:30 and finished at 7:45. If I didn’t live alone, I would have been LIVID if anyone had picked up that book before I got home from practice.

        2. TootsNYC*

          And yep, that too got relayed as me “yelling” at him about it.

          That’s because he knew that you would have been entitled to yell at him for reals. He knew he was wrong.

        3. only acting normal*

          We had the complete set of hard-backed Harry Potters, and I feel small and petty about this but… I’m still annoyed my husband gave them away to our young niece without asking me first.

          1. True Story*

            Nope. Don’t feel petty. I’d be mad. It would be so easy to get her a set of her own, and there’s a chance you might want to gift them to your own children someday (if you plan to have them). Or, barring that, you might just have an attachment to them. People get attached to their objects. There’s a great TedEd video that talks about the attachments we form with our things.

          2. It's-a-me*

            My mum sold my entire Animorphs series at a garage sale for $2. Not $2 each, $2 total.

            While I’d like to think some young kid got to enjoy them, I know it’s far more likely the person sold the books for what they were really worth on ebay (about $7 a book)

        4. Indoor Cat*

          Perhaps a tangent, but I have come to wonder if for some kinds (subcultures?) of people, “yelling” colloquially means just any kind of harsh / negative tone. Stern lecture could be yelling. Snappish or brusque correction could be yelling. Pretty much any critique that isn’t hand-holdy, let’s-learn-from-our-mistakes is “yelling.”

          It used to really irritate me, because I thought the complainer was just lying to garner pity, but it happens so often that I almost wonder if the word useage has changed and broadened so much that now one can assume that “He yelled at me,” might just as easily mean “He reprimanded me” or “He chewed me out.” That is, the complainer isn’t intentionally being deceptive in their phrasing.

          In the way that “Literally” has expanded to mean “virtually” in addition to its original meaning:

          But, I’m not sure. Perhaps I’m giving rule-breakers too much benefit of the doubt.

          1. dawbs*

            No, I’d go with this.
            I’d say my dad “yelled at me” if he was upset and reamed me out without raising his voice.

            I’m kinda always shocked when people go with “but I never raised my voice” because I consider it just a figure of speech.

            1. sonicgirl95*

              I dunno about this. Back when I was in driver’s ed, my teacher was….quite the character. He didn’t yell, but he had that forced calm where you can tell he’s just boiling inside. I was terrified, and slightly traumatized about driving for a while. (My mom made sure my younger sister signed up with a different one!)

          2. sb*

            Yes, this is a term changing. I use it this way and generally assume others are too. I’m not using it for additional sympathy, and I wouldn’t find being screamed at vs being quietly-sternly-lectured to be more worthy of sympathy.

            I wonder if the drift is because honestly? I couldn’t tell you in retrospect if someone did/didn’t raise their voice when chewing me out over something. So yes, all unconstructive feedback I’d call “yelling”, because I literally (yes, literally) don’t recall what particular method of tone/voice/facial expression was used to convey displeasure. I’d probably say “shouting” if I did specifically want to indicate that shouting/loud voice was used.

      3. Breda*

        When Half-Blood Prince came out, I had a swim meet the next morning. My mom let me go to the midnight release on the STRICT INSTRUCTION that I not read it when I got home, but go straight to bed so I could get up at 6 for the meet. (I was real bad at mornings.) I…did not do this, but I didn’t stay up to read the whole thing. Instead, I brought it to the meet the next morning. EVERYONE on the team (and some from the other team) was trying to read it over my shoulder. I’d hand it over to someone else every time I got up to race, but forced them to return it as soon as I’d dried off!

        1. Talia*

          I went to the midnight release for Deathly Hallows and then went to my job at Wendy’s the next day, and took it to read on my break. My colleagues were the exact opposite– they were extremely befuddled by the fact that I was *reading* from the beginning of my break to the end of it when I could have been smoking in the parking lot with them.

          I was… not a good culture fit at Wendy’s.

          1. TheNotoriousMCG*

            When Deathly Hallows came out I went to the midnight release and my mom knew there would be NO stopping me from staying up and reading it until the end. She had made me a little nest on the couch with snacks next to it and left me there. When she woke up again at 5am and found me SOBBING over a certain character’s death she just said ‘DONT TELL ME ANYTHING!’ And got me a bowl of cereal.

          2. Merci Dee*

            When Deathly Hallows came out, my daughter (who was 2 or 3 at the time) and I were living with my parents while I was going through a divorce and trying to reach a settlement for a car wreck. I picked up my book at the midnight release, and my mom was still awake when I got home. I walked in, and she said, “I know you’re dying to read that book. So your dad and I are going to take care of the kiddo this weekend — you just read until you’re done.” To this day, I think that was probably one of the best gifts my mom had ever given me.

            Bonus memory from that weekend — I went to the midnight release with one of my friends who is also a huge Potter fan. We stumbled through the doors of Barnes & Noble at about 11:30 or so, and the place was already packed. A few store employees were dressed in costume and checking names off against the pre-order list to give them a voucher to present at the desk for their copy, and they were also giving out free “commemorative” pins that were badges for each of the houses. Nothing fancy to their distribution, as they’d just reach into a box and jam whatever they grabbed into your hand. After we were herded away from the door and were guided to the end of the line, we checked to see what pins we’d received. My friend happened to get a Gryffindor pin, and I got a Ravenclaw. She blinked and looked up at me and said, “Well, the Sorting Hat couldn’t have called that one any better.” I couldn’t help but agree.

            1. Bobbin Ufgood*

              I bought it “for my husband” and then had a 36 hour work shift and took it with me . . . not sure he’s forgiven me yet

            2. Jess*

              I love that your parents did that, what a treat! I have a two-year-old and even though I’m not a single parent or anything like that, the idea of having a weekend to myself just to read sounds like BLISS!

          3. Clewgarnet*

            I went to the midnight release of Deathly Hallows, was given my pre-ordered book in a stuck-down paper bag, and went back home to read it – only to discover they’d given me the version with the ‘adults’ cover, rather than the ‘childrens’ cover I’d ordered!

            So I read the version with the adults cover in one night, being very careful not to damage the spine, then went back the following day to swap it for the childrens cover. (I refused to have ONE BOOK not match all the others in the series.)

        2. Anion*

          Heh, I was in the UK when Deathly Hallows was released, and I went to a midnight release party. My mom (in the US) made me promise to scan the first chapter into our computer when I got home and email it to her at work, so she had the first chapter of the book four hours before it was released in the US. :-)

          (I normally don’t condone such things, but she was buying the book anyway, it was only the first chapter, and I knew she wouldn’t be loading it onto any websites or anything.)

      4. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

        I only liked bananas that were just past being green and still a little firm with no brown spots. One day I found someone had switched my perfect banana with a gross, soft brown spotted one. Turned out it was my boss and he did it as a joke. I got my banana back.
        In another workplace someone stole my bottle of Glucerna, a supplement for people with diabetes. A drink that was meant for people with a medical condition. It’s not like I could have a soft drink in it’s place.

        1. TootsNYC*

          when I was young, the guy in the cube next to me stole our friend and coworker’s banana. We held it for ransom (drew an alarmed face on the peel; tied a “blindfold” around it; held a gun-shaped bookmark to its head). We thought we were hysterical. She was only lightly amused at waiting for us to finish our shenanigans before she could eat it.

      5. Chinook*

        See, I will share a book but being the first one to read it is a huge issue because there is nothing like the “new book smell.” Plus, some people (whispers) crack the spine!!!

        My grandfather was also like this with his newspaper – he wanted to be the first to read it while it was all folded neatly. Once he has read a section, it was fair game to everyone else.

        1. Typhon Worker Bee*

          Yes yes yes. I am all about sharing books, but only if I’ve already read them. I don’t mind cracked spines, dogearing etc (some of my favourite books are very battered indeed, having survived multiple moves and vacations), but I get to do the first damage to my own books, thankyouverymuch.

        2. ss*

          oh that ‘spine cracking’!! Several members of my guild did a bulk order of a special technical manual related to our guild. At our meeting, our order came in and we were all handed the books we’d ordered, still shrink-wrapped and pristine. Some of the people in the meeting hadn’t purchased the book and one asked if she could look at the book. So one of the members handed over her wrapped book. The person unwrapped the book, opened it to the first page and pressed down ran her finger along the inner spine to crease the page flat. Then flipped to the next page, and did it again. She flipped to the next page and started to run her finger again to crease the page flat and the book’s owner finally yelled across the table at her “what do you think you’re doing????!!!”

          1. Ladybird*

            Compound that with Harry Potter!

            So driving home from a midnight release, my younger sibling asks to see the book. I refuse adamantly as he doesn’t like reading and only came for the party. I’ve been reading the series since the first book came out.

            Back and forth, him asking, me refusing. He says he just wants to look at the book. I have to give him the book, but ask him not to open it, as I want to first. Knowing he’ll open it anyway, I ask him to make sure to not crack the spine and hand it back to him.

            What does he do? Cracks the spine.

      6. Jess*

        I’d definitely be annoyed by this, especially since she was eating while reading your book – what if she got food on it? What if you’d bought it to give to someone as a gift (i.e. not reading it yourself) and wound up with a book with broken spine, dirty pages etc?

      7. Kraziekat*

        I WOULD have yelled, if it’s a brand new HP book, but then again, after Goblet of Fire, I made a point to clear my schedule two days after the release, and going to the midnght releases. I either had understanding managers, or my days off naturally fell that way.

      8. MHR*

        When I was around 20 I worked at WalMart up in the deli. One thing I remember is someone used to bring in a communal book to the break room and leave it there. People would read on their breaks (iirc we got an hour for lunch) and everyone had a different bookmark. This is the reason I have read the first few chapters of the last Twilight book despite never having read any others or seen the movie.

    2. stitchinthyme*

      Wow. How hard would it have been to ask the owner if she could read it after you were done? I never understand people.

    3. Miki*

      The library book I checked out titled “Sociopath next door” (recommended by AAM community) disappeared from my cubicle (I work at the library, but all my books are in non-English languages, this was the ONLY English language book I had there) for like a month. Once I received the email reminder that book is due back and couldn’t find it, went on Amazon and bought the replacement copy for the library. In the mean time, a coworker (it’s a 25 plus people department) found the book on another cart (I checked everywhere before ordering a replacement) and I happened to see and snatch it back from her. I have a strong hunch that a member of a cleaning crew was reading it for the month. Now I own a copy of the book.

      1. Specialk9*

        Did you have this running commentary in your head?
        Who steals someone else’s library book about sociopaths? SOCIOPATHS that’s who!

        1. Julia*

          I’d be tempted to leave books around that are ‘How to stop murdering your coworkers’ or ‘How to hide a body’.

      2. Just Jess*

        There you go. It’s a department of 25+ people so odds are that at least one of them is a sociopath since the book claims a 4% rate in some countries.

    4. BookCocoon*

      At a previous job we started a community bookshelf where staff could share books. You could either donate books or, if you wanted to get your books back eventually, put a Post-It with your name inside. I contributed 3-4 books and put my name inside. After a while I noticed one of my books was gone and figured someone had borrowed it to read. It was never returned. A couple years later I noticed the book (The Alchemist) on our AVP’s bookshelf. I was pretty sure it was probably my copy, but it was my first job out of college and 1) I didn’t know how to confront her and 2) I didn’t really like the book that much anyway and figured it had found a good new home, so oh well. In retrospect I’m guessing it wasn’t so much an intentional theft as that she took it off the community bookshelf intending to read it, put it on her own bookshelf, and promptly forgot about it. I’ve always wondered if she ever opened it years later and found my name inside!

      1. ss*

        I loaned a technical manual to a colleague and she had it sitting on her shelf for over a year. I finally went to her and asked if I could have my book back. She informed me that it wasn’t my book… that it belonged to coworker “Y”. I knew it was my book because all of my postit bookmarks were still sticking out of it.

        As I reached over her to get the book from her shelf, she continued to loudly protest that the book didn’t belong to me. I silently opened the book to the inside cover and pointed to my name that I had written inside and then took my book with me.

    5. Lora*

      My copy of Perry’s Handbook of Chemical Engineering tends to migrate to other offices. Those things are $$$. Also Roitt’s Immunology and Lehninger’s Biochemistry. I leave them at home now, they are so far out of date that they’re not relevant anymore, but 10 years ago they were The Book for those particular disciplines.

      One day I put on my desk:

      Men Explain Things To Me by Rebecca Solnit
      How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
      The Logic of Scientific Discovery by Karl Popper

      These have never been touched.

      1. Geillis D*

        My copy of The Cell is over 20 years old and I have switched disciplines since I have last used it, but I am strangely attached to this book and it survived multiple moves and decluttering sprees.

        Couldn’t get rid of Lehninger fast enough, though.

      2. Lissajous*

        My dad got me a copy of Perry’s once as a Christmas present. His comment was “Make sure you put your name in that and guard it closely. Perry’s are prone to wandering off.”
        (We work in the same field, and this was in my early days; definitely appreciated!)

        Fortunately I work in a smaller company and people ask before they borrow textbooks or notes. Usually because the question is “do you have anything that covers Topic X?” but I’ll take it.

  4. SJ*

    At my last job, a notorious sh*t-stirrer/gossip went around telling eeeeeeverybody that the office cleaning woman had stolen money from her wallet, with zero proof. It was infuriating.

      1. SJ*

        Nope! The cleaning woman was still around when I left my job. My coworker made noises about going to HR or the police, but I managed to convince her that trying to report someone based on a hunch about a supposed theft was a dumb idea.

        I’m not actually convinced there was money missing from her wallet at all. She was just the worst.

        1. MHR*

          We have someone like that. “My wallet was stolen! You need to find out who did this immediately and i want them fired!” 10 minutes later “never mind it was in my car” Happens once every few months.

          1. ND*

            Or my manager/owner of the company, who called everyone who had been in that day to ask if they’d taken her car keys. They then called their spouse to drive the hour plus into the office with the spare set of keys, only to find the original in a pocket of the bag all along.

    1. DataQueen*

      UGH YES. A woman I worked with was on vacation when her desk had to be moved for unexpected flooding (the pipe burst, our whole floor was relocated), and in the process, the headphones that were plugged into her computer got lost. She blamed the cleaning people, the carpet guys, the painters – everyone, and guilt tripped our manager so much about it that he finally bought her new headphones.
      Oh, and these were $10 earbuds – not beats or whatever those fancy Dr. Dre ones are called. Cheap airplane-quality headphones.

      1. Roscoe*

        Well, I do think it was your company’s responsibility to replace those if they were taken while she was out on vacation. Not cool to blame others without proof though

        1. Partly Cloudy*

          I believe it. My boyfriend tested Beats against Bose and the Bose headphones were much better for both quality and comfort.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            We had a rash of petty thefts at Exjob—stuff was disappearing from people’s cubes, so I started taking home my Creative Labs headphones instead of leaving them in my drawer. Not long before I left, an online friend gave me a pair of Symphonized Wraith wood headphones. Beautiful things–very hipster, with a metal band and a fabric cord. He said he had an extra pair of ‘phones he didn’t want and would I like them? I said sure, and he shipped them to me. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I opened the box.

            If I take these to work, I plan to bring them home with me every night (I got them a padded case, haha). It’s not that they’re super duper expensive (about $99 and they’re usually on sale), but they’re really NICE. I don’t want anyone else using them and if someone took them, I’d turn murderous.

            1. Andraste's Knicker Weasels (formerly ancolie)*

              Oh my god, I hadn’t heard of that brand before, so I looked em up. They are BEAUTIFUL!

      2. Artemesia*

        Nothing worse than accusing vulnerable people of theft. My son once accused our cleaning person of theft. She was a new person assigned by the person we had been using. In order to make sure we didn’t falsely accuse, we actually put some money in the place he saved money and carefully counted it, the next time she came to clean. Yup, half the money was gone that evening and at that point I was comfortable reporting her and costing her her job. But not going to risk that when a 10 year old who might have misplaced the money complains without testing it.

        1. stitchinthyme*

          Same sort of thing happened to me once. I had a bottle of painkillers that I’d been prescribed after a surgery; fortunately, my recovery was relatively pain-free and I’d only taken 3 out of a bottle of 30; I opened the bottle more than a year later to dispose of the rest and found that there were only 9 left. I didn’t want to accuse the cleaning people without further proof because I know the stereotype of low-wage workers being dishonest, etc., and I didn’t want to make false accusations against vulnerable people, but the only other key to the apartment was in the complex management office, and while they could have come in anytime, they had no reason to (no repairs or anything); the only people I *knew* had been in were the cleaning people.

          So the next time they were scheduled to clean, I replaced the remaining painkillers with some innocuous vitamin pills and put the bottle back. Sure enough, after the cleaning people had been there, several pills were missing — I suspect they’d been taking a few each time over a period of months, figuring I’d never notice.

          I called the company to tell them what I’d found, and they talked to their people and said they insisted they hadn’t taken anything. I was in the process of moving out of the area (I discovered the missing pills while cleaning stuff out in preparation for the move), which meant I would have stopped using that cleaning service anyway, so I let it go…and now I make sure that on the very rare occasions when I have anything like pain pills in the house, they’re locked up.

          I should also note that I’ve been using various cleaning services for more than 15 years now, and that’s the ONLY time I’ve ever noticed anything missing. Hell, one time I was in a rush and didn’t leave a note with their tip on the table, figuring they’d know by now that it was for them…and they didn’t take it.

          1. Not a Morning Person*

            Good idea to lock up such things even when you are just having company over. It’s a sad state.

          2. Artemesia*

            I have my drugs in my bathroom, but when we are having guests they get stowed in the walk in closet. I can easily imagine someone helping themselves to the Ambien which is the only stealable drug I have at the moment.

        2. Manders*

          This happened to a friend of mind once, only the thief ended up being her scummy older brother, who thought he could get away with blaming it on the cleaning person.

          1. Anon for This*

            Yeah, my nephew has serious drug and alcohol problems, in and out of rehab for years by now. When he was younger, but not too young for drinking and scamming, he got the nanny dismissed for theft of nice jewelry. I have wondered for awhile about that. :(

        3. Samata*

          This happened to a friend of mine with an expensive bottle of bath oil someone had gotten them for their wedding. It was an unopened bottle and when she came home it was EMPTY but placed back..

          She called the cleaning company and the manager was really nasty to her. Until she let him know she had nanny cams all over the house and had proof of the theft on video. The girl got fired and they got their bath oil replaced.

          1. Millie M*

            I just have to wonder…did the cleaning people take a bath at her house? How did they use a whole bottle of bath oil? Why didn’t they use some and replace it with water so it wouldn’t be so noticeable?

    2. You're Not My Supervisor*


    3. Mrs. Fenris*

      My MIL had a HANDGUN stolen from her by a cleaning person once!! She didn’t have proof, but she filed a police report and fired the cleaning person.

      The gun was registered to my husband.

      Somebody used it to rob a bank a couple of years later. Imagine our reaction to having the FBI knock on our door at 8 AM. (He was not a suspect…they had video images of the robber, and Fenris was 20 years older, 100 pounds heavier, and the wrong race…but it sure made everybody’s life easier to be able to give them a copy of that police report.)

      1. Specialk9*

        O_o. That would be a rough way to wake up! Good thing they were so clearly not guilty.

        I feel that if a cleaning person CAN steal your gun, you shouldn’t be allowed to have a gun. Gun safe or locked cabinet or no gun.

        1. Mrs. Fenris*

          Oh, don’t even get me started. My MIL is not responsible enough to own a houseplant. There are a million reason she should have never had that gun.

  5. Rainbow Hair Chick*

    I had a small bag of Cheetos in my desk. Someone ate them all, then used my white sweater that was hanging on the back of my chair to wipe the cheese dust off. My sweater was stained and I had no Cheetos. So sad. I learned to lock my desk after that.

    1. SJ*

      WHAT??? I mean, I pretty much never wear white because I am definitely the sort of person to accidentally get Cheeto dust on myself, but I shouldn’t have to guard my whites against other people too!

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        I taught my niece and nephew how to use chopsticks specifically so they could use them for that same purpose. No more orange fingers!

        1. TheNotoriousMCG*

          Am I weird in that I really love to build up the cheeto dust and then lick it off at the end?


          I thought so

          1. Cherith Ponsonby*

            You may be weird, but you’re certainly not alone.

            (Bonus points if you get so much dust on your fingers that you have to scrape it off with your teeth! Disgusting it may be, but so very satisfying.)

      2. lover of faux cheese*

        Chopsticks! They keep your hands clean, and it takes longer to eat them so you don’t mow through the whole bag in one sitting. Not that I have ever done that…

      3. oviraptor*

        When my sister and I were kids we just used toothpicks to eat cheetos. After conducting numerous experiments, the conclusion was that the toothpicks worked best with cheese puffs (kinda boring) or cheese balls (much more exciting – there was always a good chance the cheese ball would become a projectile).

    2. JessaB*

      I put a can of pringles in my stuff box at work. I never had a problem if people used stuff but dammit, they ate ALL my pringles and didn’t tell me. Now I worked 11pm to 9am I could NOT leave the building and even if I could there was nowhere within a 15 minute break that would be open. If they’d just told me they’d eaten them. This was before we had a snack machine installed. I had nothing to snack on at all in a 10 hour shift. Only the sandwich I brought for “lunch.” I flipped a gasket on them.

    3. AMT*

      This is my favorite because of the implication that the thief stood around eating the Cheetos at your desk after the theft. Like, wouldn’t you want to make a quick getaway? The brazenness!

    4. Floundering Mander*

      I’d seriously go on an office rampage to find the culprit and make them pay for my ruined sweater. I have a hard enough time finding clothes that I like without some jerkface ruining them for me.

  6. SNS*

    We have two “office mysteries”. 1. who stole the bed risers we use to make our standing desks higher from one coworker and 2. who stole half of a hard boiled egg from the fridge from another coworker’s lunch

    1. JulieBulie*

      Was there only half an egg to steal in the first place, or did they actually take half and leave the other half behind??

        1. KHB*

          Not work-related, but that reminds me of a time I was staying in a hostel with a communal kitchen. I’d gotten two (identical) donuts, eaten half of one of them, and put the rest in the fridge. The next morning, the whole donut was still there, but the half-eaten one was gone. Hope somebody enjoyed getting my germs.

          1. Turkletina*

            One time, I made eight pancakes. I ate three of them, and put the rest in the refrigerator. When I came back the next day, there were three and a half pancakes left. That wasn’t the first time my roommate lied about eating my food, but it was the most bizarre lie. I might not have noticed if she just took one whole one!

            1. Janelle*

              My boyfriend and I are known to take a bite or two out of a slice of pizza then put it back in the box. We agree this is acceptable behavior however in our relationship.

            2. KHB*

              Oh, and then there was the time that I’d made like a dozen mini cheesecakes (think cupcake-sized), put them in the fridge, and in the morning every. single. one of them was gone. My roommate had eaten ALL of them overnight (and she confessed to this). After that, our relationship went downhill, quickly.

    2. Artemesia*

      I once stole a bag of oreos out of someone’s lunch. I put little bags of oreos in my own lunch and thought it was mine. Later I realized, when I got my lunch out that it wasn’t and I had been the office thief. I just quietly stole away and never mentioned it or did it again.

      Wiping stolen cheetoh dust on someone’s sweater. That should be a firing offense. Who wants to work around someone that awful?

        1. zora*

          I’m currently doing the opposite. I’m pretty sure the thing in the freezer is mine, but I forgot to label it, so I’m waiting another month and if it’s still there, I’m going to eat it. And really really hope I’m really not stealing it!

          1. NacSacJack*

            I’ve done this with pop. I actually waited 3 months because I sometime accidentally buy extra or get a freebie from the machine, but I know another co-worker brings hers in from home. we drink the same flavor of pop (or is it soda?) (Or is it soda pop?.

            1. Lady Jay*

              There’s a Dilbert about this. The boss tells employees that the company will no longer provide free soda; one of them (Dilbert, I think) says there never was any free soda. The boss insists that yes, there was . . . only to have yet another worker pipe up and say that he brought a soda to work every day for five years only to have it stolen from the fridge every time.

              The boss looks at him for a beat then asks, “Why didn’t you just drink the free ones?”

          2. Rusty Shackelford*

            I have, more than once, sent out an email asking if the thing in the freezer belongs to anyone or if it’s mine and I forgot to label it.

          3. Steve*

            In the past I’ve labeled my sodas if there was any chance of confusion. Otherwise I can’t be sure and I will just leave it there. And even seeing the soda still there, I can’t be sure it’s the same soda that has been sitting there or if it’s just someone bringing a fresh can in each day.

        2. Not a Morning Person*

          My manager did this to me once. We were using the same brand of frozen meals. She just stacked the ones she purchased in her freezer and would take the one off the top of the stack from home and bring it in. I, on the other hand, always looked at mine and made a specific choice for the day. One day I went to heat mine up and it was gone! There was a different variety still there that I knew wasn’t mine because I remembered what I brought in, but also it was something I would not have purchased. I asked her about it because it’s a small office and everyone knows what everyone else is eating. I’d earlier assumed that she must have roght in the same one. She was mortified! She replaced it the next day. She was a good manager, even if she was an accidental lunch thief!

          1. Normally A Lurker*

            I eat the same kind of yogurt as someone else on my floor. I am always TERRIFIED of doing this and becoming the *worst* person at the office because of it.

      1. GS*

        My boss accosted my co-worker in the hallway for stealing his lunch, just casually sauntering down the hallway eating it.

        Turns out they’d brought they exact same veggies, exact same dip, in the exact same container, in the same grocery shopping bag, on the same day.

      2. Rachel Paterson*

        A similar story, from Douglas Adams’ book, ‘The Salmon of Doubt’:

        This actually did happen to a real person, and the real person is me. I had gone to catch a train. This was April 1976, in Cambridge, U.K. I was a bit early for the train. I’d gotten the time of the train wrong. I went to get myself a newspaper to do the crossword, and a cup of coffee and a packet of cookies. I went and sat at a table. I want you to picture the scene. It’s very important that you get this very clear in your mind. Here’s the table, newspaper, cup of coffee, packet of cookies. There’s a guy sitting opposite me, perfectly ordinary-looking guy wearing a business suit, carrying a briefcase. It didn’t look like he was going to do anything weird. What he did was this: he suddenly leaned across, picked up the packet of cookies, tore it open, took one out, and ate it.
        Now this, I have to say, is the sort of thing the British are very bad at dealing with. There’s nothing in our background, upbringing, or education that teaches you how to deal with someone who in broad daylight has just stolen your cookies. You know what would happen if this had been South Central Los Angeles. There would have very quickly been gunfire, helicopters coming in, CNN, you know… But in the end, I did what any red-blooded Englishman would do: I ignored it. And I stared at the newspaper, took a sip of coffee, tried to do aclue in the newspaper, couldn’t do anything, and thought, What am I going to do?

        In the end I thought Nothing for it, I’ll just have to go for it, and I tried very hard not to notice the fact that the packet was already mysteriously opened. I took out a cookie for myself. I thought, That settled him. But it hadn’t because a moment or two later he did it again. He took another cookie. Having not mentioned it the first time, it was somehow even harder to raise the subject the second time around. “Excuse me, I couldn’t help but notice…” I mean, it doesn’t really work.

        We went through the whole packet like this. When I say the whole packet, I mean there were only about eight cookies, but it felt like a lifetime. He took one, I took one, he took one, I took one. Finally, when we got to the end, he stood up and walked away. Well, we exchanged meaningful looks, then he walked away, and I breathed a sigh of relief and st back.

        A moment or two later the train was coming in, so I tossed back the rest of my coffee, stood up, picked up the newspaper, and underneath the newspaper were my cookies. The thing I like particularly about this story is the sensation that somewhere in England there has been wandering around for the last quarter-century a perfectly ordinary guy who’s had the same exact story, only he doesn’t have the punch line.

    3. Fin*

      Our boss leaves food in his office for all of us to eat – just random stuff like pretzels, nuts, fruit, etc. He once left a large canister of braided butter pretzels in there that were quite popular. One guy decided that his kids would like them, so took the whole thing home! Now, I really liked those pretzels, and was pretty bummed when they weren’t there, so I actually went around asking everyone where they had gone. He came right out and admitted it. I was so flabbergasted I just walked away with my jaws hanging open and didn’t say a word. What does one say to that?!

      1. Lady Russell's Turban*

        I once made a large cake with very expensive ingredients for a much-loved co-worker’s Friday birthday. We work in an office of healthy eaters so more than half of it was left towards the end of the afternoon. Co-worker went to take the leftovers home to share with her family and the cake was gone! I asked around and discovered that much dis-liked co-worker’s son was having a sleepover party that night so she took it to serve to them.

        Above much-loved coworker would make a birthday cake–on her own dime and time–for each of the 14 people in the office and for the 8 supervisor’s she helped support in another area. These were given to the birthday honoree who would then put them in a common area and send out an email noting the delicious cake was available to all. Dis-liked co-worker would simply take hers home without sharing. Please note, she is the highest paid administrative staff member (by far and much higher paid than the clerical staff cake baker).

        1. SassyRam*

          We had a similar cake theft at our workplace. A coworker’s wife baked our shift a cake which he placed in the breakroom during shift change, come break time the entire cake and dish were gone. Three days later the cake was carried in by someone from the earlier shift, so said she found it in her fridge. We can’t tell if she was lying (she is notoriously ditzy) but her story was that she woke up the next morning and when she saw the cake in her fridge she thought someone had broken into her house and place it there. It wasn’t until she heard us complaining about it that she realize that she must have taken it home instead of her leftover tuna salad that day.

      2. Not a Morning Person*

        There was a guy at my office who would do this. At the holidays the office would receive “treats” from clients. He would take them to his car. sometimes before they’d even been opened. The office would order pizza and as soon as everyone had their first serving, he’d start moving pizza around in the boxes and fill up one of the boxes and take it to his car. His manager had to make him go to his car and bring the food things he took back in. He always acted like he was surprised that other people hadn’t had the opportunity to share or that anyone else might want seconds.

        1. Rachael*

          at LastJob our Treasury department got alot of cool holiday treats from brokers and other financial institutions. They were always kind and shared with everyone. One time I walked by and jokingly asked “Hey, where’s the chocolate covered potato chips? Did [financial institution] stiff you this year?” (they got them every year).

          I was shocked when she said that some dude who works in another department literally walked up and took the whole upopened box and walked away. I told them that he was lucky I wasn’t there when that happened. So, sadly, the one item that everyone looks forward to was stolen. :(

      3. jmm*

        One of my co-workers bought a large bowl of fresh cherries for lunch. Where we live, fresh cherries cost like $6.99 a pound in season, so it wasn’t a cheap lunch. She went to the kitchen, washed the cherries, walked a bit down the hall to clock out, got back to the kitchen and they were gone – bowl and everything.
        Her supervisor was aghast that anyone would take the whole bowl. Supervisor pushed the issue and finally someone confessed — the thief said she assumed the cherries were for everyone to snack on — but how she felt comfortable taking the bowl and all….the nerve of a brass monkey, as my mother would say.

    4. Witty Nickname*

      I once brought some leftover fried chicken in for lunch for me and my husband. Someone went into the box it was in, took a couple pieces, ate them, and then put the bones back in the box, effectively ruining everything that was left with their germy gnawed-on chicken bones. I’m still mad about that, and it’s been more than 10 years.

    1. Happy Lurker*

      I worked in a 20 person (small) government facility where a couple hundred dollars was stolen from the candy/coffee fund. It was locked up too, so it was obvious who of the 4 people it was. It took a while but they fired her.
      At my current office, the missing tp used to drive me crazy only because I was the one that had to go buy it. I was constantly running to the store. When a certain employee left my office supply bill dropped in half (as in 5 cases of copy paper a year, 10 boxes of staples, bandaids, everything). If it wasn’t nailed down it went home with them. It was noticeable because we only had 4 people in the office. Seven years later I still haven’t gone through as many boxes of staples as I did in the 2 years sticky fingers worked here.

      1. zora*

        I’ve heard a similar story from a place I used to work and the thing that always gets me is: What is that person doing with all the staples and paper clips??!?!?!? Like, seriously, are they running a collating business out of their home??? I just can’t even imagine what people are doing with some of these office supplies at their HOMES?? It is so weird to me. Anyone have any theories that make sense?

        1. Happy Lurker*

          Me too – honestly, I figure it is a sickness. There were two working adults in their home. What are they doing with everything…hoarding?
          I had heard other stories from a coworker and I really believe it was a kleptomania or compulsive type situation.

          1. zora*

            Oh yeah, you’re probably right. I always forget that not everything people do can be explained with logic. ((Sigh)) Thank you for the reminder, now I’m not quite so confused.

        2. Just Jess*

          Maybe they volunteer with a faith-based group and are the person who always brings the office supplies (and jackets) for events?

          1. Happy Lurker*

            That would be good. I could get behind that.
            “Why did you take thousands of dollars worth of office supplies?”
            “For my church and the poor starving children in Africa, of course!”

    2. Parenthetically*

      This reminds me of a guy I knew in college who thought it was edgy to steal whatever audacious thing he could from restaurants — napkin dispensers, stacks of menus, take-a-penny-leave-a-penny dishes, etc. Once a group of us went out to eat and once we got in the car he pulled a massive triple toothpick dispenser out from underneath his coat. Such a tool, that guy.

      1. SunshineOH*

        I may or may not have a set of stainless steel salt & pepper shakers in my house from a local restaurant chain. Went to dinner with a group one day and found them in my purse after we left, where someone put them as a prank.

        1. Happy Lurker*

          I had a friend with a nice collection of restaurant embossed ash trays…that sure is going back to the old days!

          1. OtterB*

            We used to have a hotel-embossed ash tray left by the previous owners when we moved into our house. In those long-ago days we still occasionally had guests who smoked. We didn’t, so that was the only ash tray we owned. I’d get it out if someone asked for one and I’d feel like I had to explain every time that WE weren’t the ones who took it.

            Had a nice hotel towel, too. My husband was doing a lot of work travel and using the gym at work at lunch. So he’d take a hotel towel to work with him, and one ended up coming home by accident.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I did that once. I accidentally packed it (my clothes were on it and I shoved the whole mess into my suitcase). It was on a college trip probably 30 years ago. Whoops!

              1. This is She*

                I accidentally stole a very nice hair dryer from a hotel! My bestie and I were on a road trip and she’s notorious for leaving things behind. While she was dowmstairs checking us out of the room, I did my customary ‘sweep’ — collected her phone charger, her razor, and ‘her’ hair dryer, threw them in my tote. We drove all day, and at that night’s hotel, I gave her back her things and she’s all “uh, I didn’t bring a hair dryer…”

                I called the hotel and apologised, asked if I could send it back to them by post. They were all “whatever. Don’t bother, but thanks anyway.”

                And that’s how I got a new hair dryer.

              2. only acting normal*

                I knew someone who stayed at their friend’s guest house and stole all the towels… not one towel, like a whole set of 3 or 4, from their *friend’s* guest house. Who does that?!

        2. Floundering Mander*

          Somewhere I have in my possession a coffee mug from Denny’s, back when they still had the logo on them. Presumably they switched to plain mugs because jerky college kids like me were stealing their mugs.

          We used to have a plate from a local buffet restaurant with distinctive custom dishes. One night we were there when a thunderstorm rolled in and all the power in the neighborhood went out after a lightning strike. When it became clear that it was going to be out for a while the manager made everyone leave. Mom had just filled up her plate when this happened, so she wrapped it up in some napkins and took it home. We kids were absolutely scandalized that Mom would steal a plate, so of course it was a cherished item that we teased her about incessantly.

      2. Steve*

        I had some friends in college who furnished their off-campus apartment with dining hall plates and cutlery. They would go to breakfast, put a muffin on a stack of four plates. Three plates would go in their bag and one into the bussing area.

        At the same college – maybe some of the same people. They renovated a hang-out area and replaced built in chairs and tables with regular ones that move. Within a week all of the chairs had “moved” into people’s dorm rooms. There were passionate arguments made on the school message boards about how the chairs belong to the public at the college, the students were part of that public, and therefore they had a right to use the chairs in their rooms. Campus security did a sweep of every room on campus, brought them back to their rightful place, and literally tied them down. Well, cabled and locked them down.

        1. the gold digger*

          My college used to do regular room searches for silverware and dishes.

          They missed the coffee cups I discovered my husband still has, 30 years later. I have suggested perhaps we return them to the rightful owner and he refuses. (We don’t use them because they are too small.)(So it’s just nostalgia.)(Although when I consider what my school charges in tuition these days and what they pay the president, I realize they can afford to comp us five coffee cups.)

          1. birchwoods*

            Room searches!? That’s so invasive! My undergrad uni had a culture of kids taking the dining hall’s cups and ice cream bowls, so about once a semester around exams they’d put out bins for honor code collections, no questions asked. It worked very well. I’d say the more prevalent problem was students bringing in large Tupperware containers in backpacks and filling them up with cereal. I regularly made illicit extra sandwiches to take away with me, mainly because my class schedule often made me miss meals, and we were allowed to take fruit. That was pretty common, and most people only took what they were going to eat. I think most people didn’t feel bad since our dining hall meals evened out to 11 dollars each (10 years ago at this point). That should give an idea of what tuition was….

        2. Cherith Ponsonby*

          Most of the glassware in my first solo flat came from the uni bar (the rest was Nutella and Vegemite glasses). They’re such convenient sizes and so aesthetically pleasing! I still have some of them 20 years on (which is probably a longer life than they would have had at the uni bar).

          My dad used to travel on business a lot and we ended up with a lot of airline cutlery. I don’t know if it’s a genetic thing, because I have a similar problem with cafe teaspoons.

          1. Happy Lurker*

            OMG! Just remembered a ski club trip to Europe. First night in the restaurant bar and they were missing like 35 beer mugs…which were the coolest beer mugs any of us silly Americans had seen. Management begged us to bring the mugs back…I have the best 18 year old Rugenbrau mugs in my freezer. I cherish them. Reminds me of the great trip we had. I am sure these mugs lasted longer in my care than the hotels too!

        3. only acting normal*

          Someone once stole all the mouse balls from the physics department computer lab when I was at university. (I assume it was a prank rather than for some actual purpose). The department were understandably pissed, but I still think it was quite funny.

            1. valc2323*

              my brain translated that as “those clear plastic balls you put rodents in to run around” and then wondered why you’d have them in a physics lab. Bio or psych lab, sure.

      3. SaraV*

        If I wasn’t an honest person, I would steal the glasses from a family reataurant chain here in the Midwest-Plains states. They’re a great size, and I love the pattern on them.

        1. The Principal of the Thing*

          You can always ask to buy them from the restaurant: these items are often consumables and ordered regularly and they might be happy to let you buy your own for the good publicity.

        2. CMart*

          Ask your server some day if you’d be able to buy them from the restaurant.

          Maybe they’ll say yes. Maybe they’ll say no. But if you’re kind of a regular or are really nice I’m guessing there’s a 60% chance your server will look around shiftily, say “I ain’t seen nothin'” and wink at you as they gesture toward your purse, if not come by with some clean and dry glassware wrapped in a napkin.

          Source: did a lot of unscrupulous winking and under the table condiment and promotional glassware hand-offs to customers I liked over the years.

        3. Elizabeth West*

          Absolutely ask where they got them. It might be a place you can order from yourself. There’s a restaurant supply website called someone told me about. Anyone can buy stuff (though it often comes in bulk quantities).

          1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

            Their prices are good, but the shipping is outrageous. I’ve always found better total prices somewhere else, so search google if you know what the thing you want is called.

      4. Sara*

        ooh I may or may not do this when I’m drunk. I found a pool ball in my purse the other day (though I don’t think I put it there)

        I should say, this doesn’t happen very much since I’m out of college. College me was a real klepto

    3. It's-a-me*

      Oh that makes me think. I have a little ‘Gumball’ machine on my desk, but instead of gumballs it has brightly coloured erasers. I wonder if anyone has stolen one and got a nasty surprise.

  7. Murphy*

    At my old job, I had my food eaten on multiple occasions (pre-packaged frozen meals) which sucked because we didn’t get paid very much, had a very short time for lunch, with almost nothing nearby. I also had my tupperware thrown out. Once a month, there was a board meeting in the break room/conference room, and apparently they couldn’t be treated to the sight of my clean tupperware. Sometimes it was hidden in the cabinets, but several times it was just thrown out.

    This wasn’t theft, but it was weird: Recently I couldn’t find my travel coffee mug in the office kitchen (which I always clean and leave in the dishrack to dry), but the dishwasher was running. I looked for it the next day and sure enough, someone had put my clean, not dishwasher safe, coffee mug in the dishwasher. I have no idea why.

    1. Betty*

      Eh. Communal kitchens shouldve allow people to leave their dishes out everywhere. You can clean it when you get home. I dont get the people spending 15 minutes washing their dishes, taking over the sink and taking up all the counter-space afterwards.

      1. NB*

        Because they can waste valuable work time standing uselessly at the sink. I once watched a salaried coworker rinse a clean fork for two straight minutes. It was sparkling!

        1. Betty*

          You know there are those people who come in, make an entire meal (microwaving bacon, eggs, etc) that takes 10 minutes, hog the kitchen then proceed to wash every dish that they brought in to perfection (that takes 10-15. Then keep their dishes there to dry, taking up the entire counter-space.

          These are often teh same people who take up half the communal kitchen bringing in a week’s worth of groceries then making a meal at work, not at home and bringing it in.

          And I’ve thrown out dishes left sitting out taking up space for an entire day or days. it’s not your home people. And if you take up all the space, I’m moving your stuff. And if that movement is the trash can, so be it.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            Eh, you’d hate my office. This happens every day in my office, and that’s why the full kitchens are there – to prep food. Maybe I just have kinder than average coworkers, but people doing more elaborate food prep often let others jump the line of they’re going to be a while and no one cares if you move their stuff, if they walk away from it. People also leave dishes in the office and wash them fully rather than carting them home every day – a number of people take public transit and some bike, so leaving things at work is much easier. There are often things drying on the counter. If you threw away peoples reusable food containers because they left the drying in the kitchen after lunch, you would not be very popular. The fridges get tossed every Friday, if you’re stuff’s not labeled and dated but no one’s going to begrudge you washing your dishes and setting them out to dry.

            And salaried employees aren’t wasting valuable work time – they should have to finish their work regardless of time, so if they want to wash them dishes and take that time off their work, the work just has to get done some other time. I don’t mind taking time to wash my lunch container or chat with a coworker because if I have to finish my TPS reports after dinner, I will. That’s my choice of how to use my time.

        2. Typhon Worker Bee*

          There was a guy who used to work here who would take fooooooreeeeeeeeveeeeeer to wash his tupperware and fork. It was painful, and he was immune to all hints. Seriously, dude, there’s a line-up behind you at our only sink – do what everyone else does and just get it clean enough to take home without stinking your desk, bag, or car out.

      2. Katniss*

        I mean, if I bring something that needs to be in the fridge, I’m not going to let the remainders of it sit on my tupperware for the rest of my day or even for my trip home: that will ruin the tupperware. So I wash it in the kitchen sink. Don’t take 15 minutes though and I just towel dry it.

          1. Katniss*

            It definitely has in the past: with food crusted on that I can’t get off, or smells/tastes that will not come off after being marinated all day long. The office sink is there for our use, so I use it.

          2. The OG Anonsie*

            Not all kinds of foods will but some will definitely leave a discolored funk on plastic tupperware forever.

            1. pop*

              Washing it at work or not wont change the color change.

              Also, no one should be microwaving in plastic anyway.

                1. pop*

                  “Old, scratched, or cracked containers, or those that have been microwaved many times, may leach out more plasticizers.”

                  Straight from you article. So those microwaving and washing cause theyd get ruined sitting for a while with old food are . . . 0lder. More leachate of carcinogens

                  Plastic is made from fossil fuels. It’s not that hard to buy some glass Pyrex containers.

              1. Allison*

                Wait what? I’ve been microwaving food in plastic containers for freaking EVER and have never had a problem.

      3. Jesmlet*

        I rinse out my tupperware so that it doesn’t have food crusted on it or anything then throw it into the dishwasher when I get home. But I towel dry it so it’s not an eyesore/taking up space in the kitchen and then just stick it in my bag. We end up collecting a lot of tupperware over the years and every so often I go through them, ask who it belongs to, and if it remains unclaimed, I’ll toss it all. Since I’m the one who has to organize and find a place for it all, either take your shit home, or don’t whine when it ends up in the garbage.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          I rinse it out at work, but I’d rather wash it at home in the dishwasher instead of at work, using the dish soap I don’t like and the scrubber that smells like old coffee. :-P

          1. Rebecca in Dallas*

            This! I just rinse my (off-brand) Tupperware, dry it with a paper towel and take it home to actually wash it. We don’t have an office dishwasher, there is just a disgusting sponge that’s been in the sink for months.

        2. Kyrielle*

          I just rinse (or shake clean into the trash for loose non-sticky foods) mine and take them home, but I use mostly glass bowls with tight-sealing plastic lids. Washing it at work uses up time I should be working.

          Um. The irony of saying that in a comment I’m making from work hasn’t completely eluded me, either….

      4. Murphy*

        I hardly think leaving either a coffee mug or a tupperware in a dish rack counts as leaving dishes out everywhere.

        I don’t want my coffee mug to get all gross during the day, so I take a minute and rinse it out. When it’s clean an dry, I can toss it in my lunchbag later to take home.

      5. Rachel Green*

        I clean my dishes in the work kitchen every day, because I’d rather hand wash them at work than have all those plastic containers taking up space in my dishwasher at home. I don’t leave them sitting out on the counter, though. I have a towel that I use (and keep at my desk) to dry the clean dishes. If I have a lot of dishes, it can take 10 minutes, but usually it’s just 5.

      6. Jerry Vandesic*

        At one former job, any dishes/mugs/silverware that was left in the kitchen was tossed in the trash by the cleaning staff every evening (under employer orders). After you lost your first pyrex dish, you tried not to leave things after using the kitchen.

    2. Elemeno P.*

      Sounds like they were trying to be helpful, but were most certainly not! I had a case like that a couple of weeks ago. We had a potluck, and I brought in my rice maker to make my dish. In an attempt to be helpful, someone filled it with soap and water once it was empty. This would have been very nice had the rice maker not still been plugged in and turned on, so I ended up struggling to take out a pot of near-boiling water so I could take it home to clean.

    3. Samiratou*

      Oh, that reminds me of the time I had a tub of cream cheese thrown out by an unannounced fridge cleanout. Despite the sign saying it would be cleaned at 9pm on Fridays, they hadn’t cleaned it in awhile so they randomly did a cleanout on a Tuesday night (or something). It was homemade roasted garlic & parmesan cream cheese (really good!), in a quart-sized ziploc canister and that and a few bagels got tossed. Man, was I angry about that. That was to be breakfast for me and my husband for a couple weeks. They cleaned it out overnight so when we got there the next morning there was no rescuing the container.

        1. Talia*

          I used to leave a week’s worth of lunches/sandwich fixings in the fridge at the first place I interned, because there was a grocery store across the street from work and I hadn’t yet found grocery stores within perishable-transporting distance of where I was living. Other people did similar, though for different reasons, so I don’t think anyone minded.

        2. Typhon Worker Bee*

          I used to fill a tall-but-skinny Tupperware with a tub of hummus and veggies, and when combined with the Ryvita in my desk drawer it would last me a full week of lunches while not hogging any more fridge space than the other containers people bring in each day.

        3. Samiratou*

          We didn’t usually, but had made up a double batch of the cream cheese specifically for work breakfasts. We would have brought the cream cheese home over the weekend, and brought in a tube of bagels as we used them, but yeah. It was one container and one tube of bagels, so it didn’t take up much space or anything.

        4. Bird*

          No, it’s really not ridiculous, as long as your office has a large enough fridge that everyone can fit their food in.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*


            Seriously, we’ve got a full-size fridge and a small office and lots of people leave several days’ worth of food in it. And it’s fine.

            1. Bleeborp*

              Yeah, I do the same, it’s really not that big a deal. I usually have a little stack of containers with my veggies and stuff for my salads, and I assemble them when I’m ready to eat. It’s fine as long as I don’t take up too much space or let anything go bad.

          2. Mabel*

            Plus, the “Thats ridiculous” comment was kind of obnoxious. Parlor could have asked why Samiratou had that much food in the refrigerator instead of declaring it to be ridiculous.

        5. Allison*

          I bring cream cheese and bagels from home often. I’ve been keeping the cream cheese at work (careful to label it, or the department that gets free bagels on Friday will use it) and sometimes bringing in a few bagels at a time.

        6. Genevieve*

          I feel like it’s very common for people to leave a large container of peanut butter, cream cheese, etc in the fridge to make fresh sandwiches or bagels every morning. Many people do it at my office and we don’t run into any issues.

            1. Rebecca in Dallas*

              Supposedly you’re supposed to keep natural pb refrigerated. I keep it in the cabinet and have lived this long, so I think it’s just a myth.

              1. zora*

                It depends on how long it takes you to eat it. I have let natural peanut butter sit for months without eating it and it definitely turns rancid, it was pretty gross.

                Also, being refrigerated helps keep the oil from separating out again, which is why a lot of people refrigerate it.

                1. Rebecca in Dallas*

                  Oh, good to know! Luckily a jar of peanut butter never lasts months in my house! I eat pb every day.

                2. zora*

                  Ha! Yeah, if you go always go through a jar quickly, you definitely don’t need to worry about refrigeration! ;o)

            2. Someone else*

              Many natural peanut butters (ie no sugar in it) specifically indicate they should be refrigerated after opening.

              1. saffytaffy*

                Not to be pedantic, but natural peanut butter isn’t called that because of sugar. Don’t forget, sugar is natural! (plus it’s an unregulated term, but whatever)
                Natural peanut butter is missing the hydrogenated oil and stabilizer(s) that makes normal peanut butter homogenized and smooth.

        7. ReanaZ*

          I would often bring in a container of 3-4 days of soup, and heat one serve up in a bowl daily. Why is this weird?

        8. NotAnotherManager!*

          I do. It’s easier to do one heavy day on public transit than 5 medium-heavy days. Each floor has a kitchen with a full-sized fridge, and many people bring in multiple days’ lunches at one time.

        9. Jessen*

          It’s especially common I’ve found among people who have to deal with either food thieves or food “sharing” at home.

      1. Admin of Sys*

        We had a director once go through all the cabinets and throw away things or move them to the communal spaces, without warning. I lost a tea pod, a container of cinnamon, and about 25 tea bags because of it. I’m all for regular, announced clean-outs, but give some warning!

    4. BookCocoon*

      Not work related, but I once had a roommate borrow my travel mug without asking, and she put it in the microwave (it was not microwave safe) and melted part of it.

    5. Winifred*

      I work in a church with a Sunday coffee hour, and we have hundreds of donated coffee mugs for said coffee hour.

      I have an expensive, fancy double walled and lidded ceramic mug for making my tea that is kept in a separate kitchen on a different floor than the coffee hour mugs.

      The first time my mug vanished, I found it in a cupboard in one of the Sunday School classrooms (because that’s where they found it — NOT).

      The second time it vanished, it never turned up.

      I bought a second one and put my name on it (twice, so you could see my name from every angle) with a label-maker. I didn’t like doing this. It has vanished once and I found it in the completely separate, coffee hour kitchen again, mixed up with other coffee mugs. I never found the lid.

      I’ve worked here 3 years so perhaps should count myself lucky! Moral: even churches have people who are loose with other people’s stuff.

      1. SevenSixOne*

        I used to work with someone who had a custom coffee mug that said something like I STOLE THIS MUG FROM SAM LASTNAME, and a photo of Sam with an over-the-top sadface.

    6. Alli525*

      I had to throw out old tupperware at my last job, but only because I wasn’t about to open it up and risk fungal infection from the moldy leftovers therein. Everyone in the office had been warned that this was a throw-out day, so no excuses, and no one EVER dared ask me about those items.

      1. SunshineOH*

        Ugh. The fridge wars. Everyone wants to complain about it; no one wants to clean it.

        One time a few years ago I finally couldn’t take it anymore so I put out an email 2 days ahead that I was going to clear it out and dispose of everything. So, as scheduled, I went in to clean and tossed everything. One guy proceeded to lose his shit because he had just gotten to work an hour before I started, and “why in the world would you throw away someone’s containers? What am I supposed to tell my wife??” Uh, dude… how am I supposed to tell the difference between your stuff that’s been in there an hour vs. The stuff that’s been in there a month? This is why I have everyone notice!

        Constant uphill battle.

        1. JanetM*

          I used to clean out our department fridge pretty much every Friday at the end of the work day. One day I started at 4:55 instead of 5:05. Oh, the humanity.

        2. Limi*

          Ugh. I was that guy too.

          When I started working at current job, our break room was kind of a dump, and our fridge was “open the door, oh stars above what died in there” nasty. I put up with it for a few months, before I just straight up asked the interim supervisor if I could clean it out for safety.

          He said to go right ahead, and gave me like two hours to deep clean the thing. Which I did. I cleared out everything. There was stuff in there from people who hadn’t worked here in YEARS. After very nearly the full two hours of work, it smelled clean, I had disinfected and scrubbed all the gunk out and it was proper again.

          At lunch time, another co-worker went looking for his food… and got mad at me for throwing it out. To my knowledge, no one used the fridge, as most everyone brought in their own cooler containers specifically because the fridge was nasty.

          I immediately apologized and offered to take him out for lunch on my own dime for the error, and offered to pay for a new set of tupperware containers to replace the ones I’d thrown out. He refused and walked off all huffy with me.

          At which point, I stopped caring. I mean, seriously. There were 3 lunchboxes in there from people who had died/quit between 2-5 years before, I… as a new person can’t differentiate whose stuff is whose, and I offered to replace/pay for your lunch immediately. What else can I do?

          1. Just Jess*

            This is a reply to Limi and Sunshine.

            I have a big problem with “I can’t stand this anymore! Let’s change right this second!” when it comes to the office fridge situation. If you’ve been putting up with it for months, or years, please give people at least two weeks notice that a change is coming. Someone could be on vacation, you can’t judge what’s considered “smelly food” for other people, and two days is not enough notice. If someone did this, particularly without sending out an email since I read all of the general comms office emails, I would be incredibly pissed that my leftovers from yesterday were gone.

            The best way to go about cleaning the fridge would be to give at least two weeks notice before doing anything, then start the process by using a marking system for sketchy looking food, and then toss it a week after it’s been marked as sketch. People should be able to put together “My food is marked to be thrown out. Better take it home or finish it” but it wouldn’t hurt to be explicit about that as well.

            1. Specialk9*

              I generally agree, but with a fridge full of 5 year old food, so gross most people brought their own coolers, and a strong smell? No way that needs another 2 weeks. But as a general rule, giving people two DAYS of heads up, with posted signs, should be done.

              1. Just Jess*

                I really want to understand this thinking because I see it often and it’s soooo not how I think. It’s not time-sensitive. Hypothetically: it’s been five years, but giving two week’s notice would be too much?

                OK, maybe there’s a party and you want to make space for cakes. Eh, then maybe you don’t really have time. But where possible, why not do it right?

                This is a micro example, but I feel like there’s a macro version when leadership does poor, badly communicated roll outs of sweeping changes. Sure, the changes might be needed and are probably time sensitive, but doing them on such a minuscule timeline drastically affects quality and adjustment capabilities.

          2. ss*

            Most offices that have round-the-clock shifts tell people that when there is going to be a cleanout and everything without a name and THAT DAY’S DATE on it will be thrown away.

      2. Not a Morning Person*

        One office I worked in had a clean out day every two weeks on Friday evening. The cleaning staff did it and they were instructed to remove and trash EVERYTHING in the refrigerator. That included even unopened drinks, Tupperware, bottles of condiments, lunch bags, etc. Most people remembered and didn’t leave stuff!

      3. Specialk9*

        I occasionally have Mason jars that get pushed to the back and I find them gaggingly late. I’ll admit that with a hairtrigger nausea gag reflex, I just toss them. Not because the glass won’t get clean in the dishwasher (it will), but because I won’t deal with the liquid former vegetables. (Gaggg)

        Ok change the subject. Puppies. Hair clips. Fluffy clouds.

      4. only acting normal*

        I once threw away something completely unidentifiable from a communal fridge. I think it may once have been a plastic bag of potatoes (?!) but it was blue-black, liquefied and leaking all over the fridge so I didn’t feel the need to give warning.

    7. la bella vita*

      There isn’t a kitchen on my floor, so there’s some woman who washed her travel coffee mug out in the bathroom sink in just leaves it there all afternoon to dry. Every single day. It is beyond weird to me.

      1. Betty*

        Ewwww. Then all the “poo hands” float around said “clean cup”. Ewwwww.

        PS – thats how I feel about gross communal sponges at work kitchens as well.

      2. motherofdragons*

        At my old job with the state, they didn’t have a kitchen for staff, so people would do their dishes in the bathroom and leave them on the counter. Sometimes it was just a mug, but many times it was a bowl of oatmeal that was left to soak all day. Yeuch.

        1. Artemesia*

          If I encountered that a second time on a given day, I think I would just throw it in the trash — beyond gross to inflict that everyone.

          1. the gold digger*

            I spent about a month washing the oatmeal dish in the sink. I would wash mine right after I ate – wash, dry, and put back in my desk. And I would wash the gross bowl half-filled with oatmeal and water because I couldn’t bear to leave something so nasty.

            After a month, I had had enough and I just threw the whole thing in the trash.

            It never re-appeared.

            Thirteen years later, I am still satisfied I did the right thing.

      3. a1*

        This happened often in my last position, too. We had a break room, but no sink or water of any kind there. So people often washed the cups and tupperwares in the bathroom, but lots of them also left the stuff on the bathroom counter until the end of the day. This is cubicle land, with decent sized desks! Why would you clean a bowl or mug or tupperware and then leave it in the bathroom. This was a daily thing. I’d see 3-5 washed items just on the counter for half the day or more.

        One of these people would also take their sweet time washing their items even if there were a line of people who had just come out of the bathroom stalls waiting to wash their hands. Step aside, please, you don’t need to stand over the sink that long. The bathroom did have 2 sinks, but after lunch was a busy time.

        1. a1*

          It was also “fun” to go to wash your hands and find a piece of lettuce, or oatmeal crumbs in the bottom of the sink. Sinks not made for food.

    8. many bells down*

      My husband’s office will order in lunches for whoever wants to participate. On several occasions, his lunch, labeled with his full name, has been taken.

      Ironically, this is a tech job with a kitchen filled to the BRIM with “help yourself” snacks; candy, cereal, cup o noodles, popcorn, etc. There’s a TON of freely-available food but still lunches get stolen. And my husband can’t just sub a cup o noodles, because he has celiac disease.

      1. Specialk9*

        I’d probably invest in an RFID label machine, just to track the thief down. But my sense of outraged justice is high, especially for theoretical matters.

      2. Jenna*

        Grrrrrr! I’m celiac and I understand. My old office all I’d have to sub with would have been peanut M&M’s or tortilla chips from a vending machine.

    9. Former Hoosier*

      I was a caregiver for my good friend who was in a rehab facility for several months. I would bring her food because the food at the facility was terrible. I always used those cheapie disposable plastic containers so that if I didn’t get them back, I wouldn’t care but she always wanted me to get them back. So she would ask (the food had to be stored in the commercial fridges with her name on them) for them and the staff would always say they couldn’t find them. So I would go into the kitchenette area and almost always find them still with her name on them. I began to think that the staff just didn’t look because they were usually there and it didn’t seem like someone was taking them home.

    10. MissDisplaced*

      On the pre-packaged frozen meals thing… They may not be stolen as much as eaten, especially if a lot of people bring that type of thing in and they are on sale. Unless you had your name on them.
      I was guilty of that once. I ate a frozen dinner I thought was my own left in the freezer from previous week. But apparently it wasn’t and the person screamed at me. It was an honest mistake, there was no name on it or anything.

  8. Bow Ties Are Cool*

    I buy my own mechanical pencils for taking notes, because I need the kind with the squishy grip and my company only provides the cheapo ones. One day I took some notes in the morning, and then in the afternoon when I needed to jot something down I realized both my lovely pencils were missing off my desktop. It’s been months now, but I still keep an eye out when I’m walking by other people’s cubicles…

    1. sam*

      I had something similar. My company supplies pens that I don’t like, so I buy my own pilot precise roller ball pens. Which are not cheap. And they kept disappearing.

      I solved the issue buy buying a set with purple ink. Did it accidentally the first time, but then I realized that the purple ones weren’t getting stolen. Since I only use them to take notes for myself (I’ll hunt down a blue/black pen to sign official documents), it doesn’t really matter if it looks like I’m 12 writing in purple ink.

      I honestly don’t know if it’s because other people think writing in purple is embarassing, or because it would be too obvious that they stole the pen off my desk, but either way, I’ve had an entire coffee mug full of the suckers sitting right out on my desk for three years and I’ve never had to refill it.

      1. LKW*

        I like to toggle between ink colors in my notebook so I know where one meeting ended and the next started. I use pretty much any color. The fancy color pens: greens, reds, purples – never get stolen.

          1. Amber T*

            Red – High Priority
            Blue – Mid Priority
            Green – Low Priority
            Purple – Waiting on something

            (Reception ordered me a pack of 12 purple pens specifically, and I paid for her silence with two of them. Yes, I have 10 purple pens hiding in my drawer.)

            1. Specialk9*

              I did this in school with highlighters. I had a system – yellow, orange, pink were important items, ranked (pink was very rare); blue and green were vocab and names, I think.

        1. Anonymous 40*

          I thought I was the only one who did that! One time several years ago, I came into work to find only the orange pens missing. Never did figure out who did it.

          1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

            If you’re in Texas… I know people who went to Texas A&M who throw out any orange pens, markers, highlighters, post-its, you name it because University of Texas’ color is Orange and they are “rivals”… These are people who are LONG out of college. I just roll my eyes.

      2. Gen*

        My manager used to buy nice biros, not that fancy but at least three grades better than the supplied ones, she dipped the ends in hot pink or UV green glitter paint. No one stole one twice, you could see them clear across the office

        1. Fur Princess*

          I also have brought in my own supplies when the company-supplied weren’t to my liking. I always marked my items with White Out or nail polish. If one went missing, I could always say to the person that stoleborrowed it, “Hey, that’s my pen, I marked it with White Out/nail polish.” I usually got the item back with a sheepish “oops, sorry”. However, if it was a manager who walked off with the premium supply, I usually got push back about how I was not.nice to not share or how they felt entitled to use things that they coveted regardless of ownership. The entitlement, it burns!

        2. Clewgarnet*

          Screwdrivers in my office will normally last about three days before wandering off with somebody.

          I’ve had the same set for over a decade. Possibly because they’re pink and sparkly with GIRL TOOL! written on them. One even has feathers coming out the end.

          1. JustaTech*

            I had a co-worker who specifically ordered all her pens in October to get breast-cancer awareness pink so none of the dudes would steal them.

            The only pair of freezer gloves (for going into liquid nitrogen freezers) that have never walked away are also pink. Hate the sexism, love keeping my stuff.

      3. Skunklet*

        2nd on the purple pens, but i do it on purpose b/c that’s my favorite color, lol… never been stolen either!

      4. MissMaple*

        Yeah, I don’t know what this says about me, but all the office supplies I purchase personally are pink, purple, or turquoise. Not because I like the colors, but because no one will take them. Pink safety glasses, check. Purple clipboard, check. Turquoise pencil cup, check. Pink travel mouse? Got it on sale. I guess it’s the one benefit of being in a male-dominated profession, no one will steal your “girly” desk items.

        1. JanetM*

          Long and long ago, I worked at an office that I believe evaporated pens — I don’t mean that people took them, I mean they just vanished into the ether. I swear there was at least one instance when I left my office with a pen in my hand, and by the time I got to the reception desk, it was gone.

          Finally, a friend gave me a pen on a rope, which managed to stay with me for several months.

          1. M*

            My brother had a habit of walking off with the pens we kept by the phone, which irritated everyone (because there were then never any there to note down numbers/etc, and it wasn’t a cordless phone, so it was a real pain to go hunting mid-call), but particularly my father.

            Best present I ever got him was a pair of cheap pen-on-a-chains, of the type you’d find at banks and the like. We never attached them to anything, the mere ridiculousness of walking off with a pen with a metre-long chain dangling from it was enough to shame my brother out of the habit. We went back to perfectly normal pens about five years later, he’s never taken one since.

        2. Floundering Mander*

          Yup. I go out of my way to find hot pink tools, because nobody else is willing to be seen on a building site with a pink tape measure. I think I went through 5 or 6 of them in a year before I figured this out. I hate pink myself but it’s proven to be an effective defense.

        3. Specialk9*

          Someone I know had a keyboard taken, so she vajazzled hers. (Ok fine, bedazzled, but I always think vajazzle when I see it! It’s like a 6 year old ballerina and a stripper headed up a committee on decorating keyboards.)

        4. LavaLamp*

          I have a Kipling 100ct pen case that stores all my good pens and it lives in my purse and comes back and forth with me to work. I don’t leave my pens available to be touched. I keep a pen cup with a couple crap pens work supplies so if someone needs to borrow one they can. Just not my good ones.

      5. SaaSyPaaS*

        I’ve had my nice pens go missing too. I bought a red pen and replaced the ink with black from the same kind of pen. Nobody seems to want to steal what they think is a red (or purple or green) pen.

        1. azvlr*

          I did this too. As an enlisted person, the officers would come in for the morning meeting and one guy in particular would just take over whatever desk he pleased to conduct his super-important Supply Officer business before the meeting started. He usually took over my desk since I was up doing other things at that time. He stole my pens, and doodled on my pristine desk calendar. Red ink was only for the CO’s official signature, so that “red” pen never left my desk until it ran out of ink.
          I pranked the candy jar with super-sour candies. The wrappers were in Japanese, so they couldn’t tell what they were.

      6. On Fire*

        Last job was bad about pens disappearing -those nice Pilot roller ball pens with the clear barrel. Some of us started writing our name on a tiny piece of paper, unscrewing the pen, and sliding our name into the barrel. It wouldn’t deter a deliberate thief, who could simply take the paper out, but it did stop those who honestly forgot they’d picked up your pen to scribble a note at your desk.

    2. Cruciatus*

      Mine is similar (for which I’m very grateful compared to these other stories!). My last job started in the fall and since it was back-to-school time I decided to buy myself some nicer pens for the new job since I love buying stuff like that in fall (and we’re talking like a $2 pen, not anything crazy). Anyway, my “fancy” pen went missing one day, though it’s probably just because I worked at the front desk of an office and I left my jar of pens on my desk and someone needed one and forgot to put it back). Even until I left I was looking at everyone’s desks and pen jars to see if it showed up somewhere else. Actually, since I still work in the same building, whenever I go back there I still sometimes check what pens they are using! I don’t like losing ANYTHING!

      1. Janelle*

        I used to work for a doctor and the reps would bring pens and such. Everyone has one they liked. Nurses and doctors would search the office to find their exact pen before willing to work. Ha. It was in a joking way in fairness but we were serious about our pens.

    3. krysb*

      I buy specific pens and bring them to work. If I find them at anyone else’s station, they get cussed. My pens, y’all. My pens.

      1. Former Hoosier*

        I do the same thing and will track my boss down when he takes them. He thinks it is hilarious that I pay for my own pens and track them down when they are missing but agrees that since I pay for them, I should get them back. He is an equal color opportunity pen stealer and has stolen my pink and lavender ones. He is just absentminded though not an actual thief.

    4. FCJ*

      I would be so mad. I’m left-handed, so what kind of pen I use really makes a difference between smooth, clean writing or a smeary mess with a cramped up hand to boot. If someone stole my nice pens I’d go on the rampage.

      1. memyselfandi*

        Me too! And because I am so particular I have a thing about not taking anyone else’s pen if I need to borrow.

        1. Mabel*

          Me, too. I need the thick barreled pens or my hand hurts, so I can’t use a “regular” pen for more than a few seconds without pain.

    5. DeskBird*

      My husband always begs me to bring back the free pens whenever I go to the OBGYN. They are pink and say Dr. Suchandsuch OBGYN on the side in big letters – and he says they are the only pens no one will steal from him. He can’t keep a normal pen on his desk for an afternoon without someone making off with it.

      1. LKW*

        Agreed and props to your husband for using manly men’s nonsense for his own benefit. When I worked in construction we would order pink visitor hard hats – any other color was stolen. The pink hard hats were never stolen

        1. Fiennes*

          They’ve done studies showing that pink cars are virtually never stolen or carjacked. If I’m ever at perfect liberty to choose my car color, pink it shall be.

      2. chocolate tort*

        OMG this mental image though:
        *cramming pens from the obgyn’s receptionist desk into a purse* Oh, ha, they’re for my husband!

        Now that I work at home, I STILL think someone is stealing my pens. I suspect my furry grey co-worker, who cries when I shut her out to make calls, headbutts my face, and spends most of the workday asleep.

        1. Alli525*

          Might I suggest looking underneath/behind your couch? My old roommate and I always marveled at the things her cat decided to steal and hide.

          1. Former Hoosier*

            My mom kept losing her stylus pens that she used for her iPad (she is retired). One day when I was visiting, I turned her chair over and found like 5 stuck in the crevices. Now she looks before she buys a new one.

            1. Specialk9*

              Pacifiers. We’ve bought at least 60. Every now and then we move something and find a jackpot. But never a jackpot of 60!

              1. Floundering Mander*

                Pacifiers are probably the most common thing I see lying lost in the street. If I were more artsy I’d start collecting them and make some kind of wacky installation out of them.

      3. Winifred*

        I have a cup of decoy pens and pencils on my desk for people to use, as more often than not someone borrows my mechanical pencil after coughing into his/her hand.

        1. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

          I have a prank shock-pen sitting out on my desk because instead of using the pens and notepads specifically set out in easy view for people to leave me messages with (because for some reason, putting that message on my whiteboard- which is company standard here- was too hard???), people rifled through my desk and used/stole my personal-use pens and stickies. Now, nobody messes with my personal desk stuff.
          (I don’t actually recommend this most places, cos really, it’s super unprofessional of me…)

      4. MillersSpring*

        I had a coworker who was using a freebie pen from his wife’s doctor’s office. He didn’t realize that the drug advertised on it was for a yeast infection drug.

    6. Bow Ties Are Cool*

      Updating, because I realized there’s more to the story:

      Our admin, who is great, found out about my stolen pencils and why I was bringing my own (bit of early-onset arthritis), and got permission from the department head to order Nice Pencils for everyone! A day after the box of Nice Pencils appeared on the team shelf, it was empty. People from other teams were spotted wandering off with Nice Pencils. Now Nice Pencils live in the team locked drawer, and if you want one you have to present yourself to the admin.

      1. CanCan*

        At my dad’s work (well-known multinational communications company), they recently locked away all supplies. So if you want any pen at all, you have to present yourself to the admin!

        I guess their thinking is, “We’re a technology company. Nobody reviews paper documents. Nobody has meetings away from their computer. If you want a pen or paper, you must be doing something shady.”

        1. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

          I’m the Materials Manager at my lab. I’ve semi-jokingly (but more serious than kidding…) asked for an Army supply set-up. Everything locked up behind a gate that has a little opening to slid your request through, and a small lockable door with cart that your requested item would be placed on and slid out to you.
          She told me no. :(

          (She put me in charge of supplies specifically because I have a tendency to go High Control with things that are “mine”. She’s holding me back from becoming the Supply Dictator of my dreams.)

      2. Sea Born*

        I worked at a small college that had two buildings. In Building A, the supplies were locked up and you had to get a key from the admin. In Building B, they were in an unlocked cabinet (away from students, though). No idea why the buildings were different in regards to supplies.

    7. Political staffer*

      I work in a male dominated field and my office supplies were always being stolen (they don’t supply them). So I solved that problem by buying everything in the pinkest girliest design I could find. They borrow my stapler, but (so far) no man has stolen a pink stapler, scissors, etc.

    8. RJGM*

      I’ve never had anything stolen at work, but my husband steals pens from himself… He’s super-picky about what pens he uses, and his special pens from work ALWAYS end up in his pockets, and then on his desk at home. One of his best shirts was ruined by ink when he forgot to take the pen out of his pocket. :(

      Now, when I accidentally take something home from work that I meant to leave there, I call it “pulling a Jake.” (Leaving something at work that I meant to take home is a “reverse Jake.”)

      1. Fur Princess*

        Locked office supplies – on one hand, I can understand because people can be nutty when they get something for nothing but I’ve also worked places where the supplies-under-lock-and-key thing was taken waaaay too far. The worst place was where you had to trade in an old, used up supply to get a new one. It bordered on childish – you had to show that the pen was out of ink. I actually had a co-worker refused a new pencil because the old one was “long enough” according to the Guardian of The Supplies ™. It’s a pencil, people, really!

        1. JanetM*

          Oh, dear — you just reminded me of the place I worked where the company provided coffee and tea; the coffee was in the kitchen, but to get a new teabag you had to bring your used one to the office manager.

          1. Floundering Mander*


            That is a crazy level of control, and I would refuse to play that game and just bring my own tea, even if I had to carry it around in my pocket.

          2. Specialk9*

            Wow. Reminds me of conservative Jews who have to get male rabbis’ blessing to have marital sex again by showing a used pad without blood.

      2. Anonymous 40*

        I do that too. Both of those, actually. My son Jake just looooves to wander off with the good pens from my desk.

      3. he he hello*

        Oh man, I was certain someone was stealing my pens from my desk drawer in my office, until I realized that I would take out a pen, write something and then drop the pen into my purse where it would disappear into a black hole.

        1. SpiderLadyCEO*

          I do this! Part of my job last year was registering voters, and not only did we need pens for this, we needed a specific colour of ink. So we would bring a whole ton of pens with us, and sure, people would wander off with a few of them, but the big thing was them disappearing into our purses and crevices of our cars. I remember dumping out a purse and finding like, 20 pens. When I cleaned my car once we wfinished that, there were pens in every crevice, for months afterwards.

    9. Alda*

      Back in school, when I was maybe thirteen or something, a classmate suddenly had my pen. It was marked with my name and everything. She got it from her mum, who was a teaches and had accidentally taken it home from the teachers’ room, where some other teacher had put it after probably stealing it from me by using it to write out something for me.
      …only now, as I’m writing it out, sixteen years later, am I starting to wonder why no one noticed my name on it until I did.

      1. only acting normal*

        I took my music stand to school for an everyone-welcome orchestra-thing once (I was not a good musician!). I’d labelled it with my name, but it still went missing. I did find it afterwards, but it had been bent flat by a teacher to use as the conductor’s stand. I was sooo upset because I was super careful with my things (I knew I wasn’t getting replacements if I broke my toys) – that’s why they chose mine, it was nice and tidy unlike the scruffy ones the school had. My (private) music tutor fixed it for me with pliers and brute force, but I never did any school orchestra events again.

        1. only acting normal*

          The same teacher had previous for wreaking kid’s things – don’t know whether they were superbly cack-handed or just mean.

          1. sstabeler*

            Mean. By the sounds of it, they deliberately chose the music stand in the best condition to ruin -the fact it was fixed later by somebody else is irrelevant- which is, in a sense, beyond mean and into the realm of minor abuse. (I say minor as it isn’t anywhere close to beating kids, but deliberately damaging a kid’s stuff is arguably itself abusive for a teacher, particularly since it’s reasonably forseeable that it would mean the kid gets into serious trouble- particularly when it presumably keeps happening- with their parents.

    10. But you don't have an accent*

      I have a similar one! I bought some matching desk supplies…because I have a shopping problem…and one of the matching things was gold, ball-point pens.

      These are (inside) the exact same as a bic pen, just a different color of plastic. They came in a package of 6 and one day I came in to only 5.

      My manager walked by and commented that they looked cool and I made the off-handed comment that I must have misplaced one, so now he’s on the lookout for whoever has a gold pen.

      They did however, leave a very nice, but not nice looking pen in their place, so I guess I shouldn’t be mad?

      1. Kraziekat*

        I would prefer a nice working, but not nice looking, pen over a nice looking, but not nice working, pen

    11. zora*

      When I walked in this morning my boss turned to me and very apologetically said “I just stole all your pens.” :oD It’s funny because they aren’t pens I paid for, they are the ones the company buys. She just is terrible about losing pens, no matter how many times I restock her desk, and so she grabbed all the pens off my desk this morning.

      It’s fine, I just restocked her desk and mine, but I love how she did the opposite of stealing and sounded so guilty about it! She’s a pretty good boss to work for. ;o)

    12. Elizabeth West*

      Front desk woes–people would always borrow stuff off my desk. They used my stapler all the time. At OldExJob, I got so sick of it I bought a great big pink-reddish Xacto stapler and put a sticker on it with a picture of Milton from Office Space and the word “MINE!” They left it alone after that, LOL.

    13. ss*

      My boss would walk off with my pens by the dozens over the course of a week. I finally special ordered pens that were printed with “stolen from [my name]’s desk”. Then after about a week, I walked over to his desk and made an obvious show of gather all MY pens from his desk.

      1. Typhon Worker Bee*

        My former boss did the same – not maliciously, just absentmindedly. I ended up ordering a bank-style pen with a string on it, and attached the base to the part of my desk he used to sign the various documents I gave to him. Problem solved, and he thought it was pretty funny!

  9. DecorativeCacti*

    One of my coworkers went to have lunch one day and found the containers that held her lunch empty, washed, and with a note that said, “Thanks, it was delicious ;)”

    We had so much silverware go missing from my department’s personal stash that we went and got the ugliest ones we could find. So much easier to find the thief now.

    1. K.*

      I’d have been SO MAD to receive that note. Somebody would have heard about that.

      Whenever I hear these “someone ate my lunch” stories, I think back to fifth grade when two boys ate my lunch when I left the table to go to the bathroom and our teacher found out, went OFF on them, made them buy me a new lunch, and sent a note home to their parents. It really struck a nerve with her. (There were no food insecurity issues among this student population, for the record.)

        1. K.*

          She’s a petite woman and didn’t raise her voice, but you knew when she was angry and she. Was. Angry. She was a great teacher. I went to a K-12 independent school and kept in touch with her until I graduated, even volunteering in her classroom sometimes.

      1. Frozen Ginger*

        I would’ve said to heck with decorum, and shouted “WHO THE F&%$ ATE MY LUNCH AND LEFT THIS NOTE?!”

        1. Alli525*

          Or at least a company/department-wide email with a photo of the empty container and note. Seriously, how incredibly brazen!

    2. JanetM*

      I couldn’t keep silverware in the drawer at my last office — I was buying a big pack of Costco spoons about once a quarter, and forks one or two times a year. Knives never went missing though.

      I suspect it wasn’t conscious theft; just someone would grab a spoon for their lunch or their coffee and unthinkingly drop it in their lunchbag when they were done.

      1. SpiderLadyCEO*

        My ex-roommate did this. I kept the house, so I would be doing the dishes and find spoons that weren’t ours. It turns out he was mostly stealing them from his parents’ house, but it was all because he would be snacking on something and just fling all the remains into his lunchbox or backpack once finished. We had so much random silverware, ahaha.

    3. Partly Cloudy*

      Wow, that’s ballsy.

      I once left a pro-active note on my own leftover birthday cake that read “A kitten dies every time you steal food.” When I went back to it at lunch (yes, I’d gotten – and started eating – the cake that morning), there was another note that read “I’m helping control overpopulation. Thanks for the cake!” BUT the person had not actually taken any cake. :)

    4. Liane*

      I’ve mentioned the greedy overnight shift at (In)Famous Retailer a few times–wreaking (not just eating!) 3 whole sheet cakes, one for each shift and the first few to get breaks Thanksgiving overnight stuffing 5+ slices of pizza into each of their lockers.

    5. crookedfinger*

      Oh, I would’ve hunted that asshole down based on handwriting alone, even if it took weeks…that’s some infuriating bullshit.

    6. Serin*

      Someone put a question on Quora that was basically: “In your office culture, are items in the shared refrigerator there for everybody, or are they people’s private food?”

      It made me wonder if there actually are offices where it’s acceptable to open a brown bag and eat what’s in it? Or was this pure wishful thinking on the questioner’s part?

      1. Tin Cormorant*

        There are offices where the admins stock the communal fridge with stuff that’s free for anyone to take, like drinks, yogurt cups, sliced up fruits/veggies, cream cheese for bagels, and milk for cereal in an attempt to offer healthier snacks. Maybe that’s what they were thinking of.

        I can’t imagine there actually being a workplace where it’s normal to open a random plastic container full of obvious leftovers and eat it. Maybe (a big maybe) if the company offered free lunches that came in the form of brown bag lunches, but in that case I’d expect there to be a bunch of identical ones for people to grab, and most importantly, for someone to have explicitly mentioned this when I was hired.

      2. Miles*

        At my current office some of the items in the shared refrigerator are communal. The office buys bread, jam, margarine, sometimes fruit etc. and then we have things like soy sauce, ketchup and hot sauce that get bought for events then end up in the fridge for whoever wants them. You wouldn’t take a brown bag or leftovers that someone obviously brought, but there have been issues with people bringing cans of pop or bags of fruit for their private use and having someone else think they were free for the taking.

    7. Delightful Daisy*

      I accidentally stole my sister’s lunch one day. She didn’t eat it when she left work so I gave it to a coworker, who thought that meant she could keep taking sis’s lunch. Big sis was not happy when she got to work that night and found out I’d given away her lunch. Oops… 30 years ago and she still mentions it at least once a year. :-)

      1. Yzma, put your hands in the air!*

        This woman thought that because you gave her your sister’s lunch ONE TIME that meant she could continue to take it? That is far more outrageous to me than you accidentally giving the lunch away.

    8. Her Grace*

      One of our floors had so much silverware going missing they actually chained a communal tea spoon to the bench so it wouldn’t go walkies. That was the only floor that had that problem.

    1. SunshineOH*

      Wow. I was skimming through the thread above this comment, and for a second I thought you said “eating” instead of “stealing”. That’s a commitment.

    2. RKB*

      Someone had left a toonie at my desk and I had put it in my vest pocket so I could deposit it as extra change; I forgot and went home with it. Was mortified and put a toonie back into the float when I was at work next. I for sure thought I was done for.

        1. Ego Chamber*

          “Toonie” = Canadian 2 loony coin (2 + loony = “toonie”).

          “Float” = Cash and change in the register at the start of the day, before any sales, to make change throughout the day (typically $100 or $200 in 20’s, 10’s, 5’s, 1’s and coins).

          1. Chinook*

            A Canadian loony/loonie is a $1 coin with a loon on it. A toonie is a $2 coin with a polar bear whose pr guy was no where as good as the loon’s.
            Plus, if you bash the older ones just right with a hammer, it can break into 2 parts and make a $2 washer.
            Both have the Queen on the reverse and neither nickname refers to her.

            1. SpotTheDog*

              Loony was cute when it came out, toonie was just dumb. I was a big supporter of the movement to call it a doubloon when it was released. That would have been so much cooler and made us all sound like pirates.

            2. Typhon Worker Bee*

              An American friend of mine was visiting once, and needed about $12 back in change when paying a bar bill. The waitress asked “loonies and toonies OK?”, and my poor friend turned to me with such a look of confusion and panic on her face!

  10. Lizzy*

    Someone keeps stealing my egg sandwiches from the freezer, even though they are labeled with my name. I’ve taken to labeling them “THESE ARE NOT YOURS” which does not stop the thief but makes me feel better.

    The most bizarre theft? I keep a bottle of grapefruit bitters in my snack drawer for water. Someone stole–not the bottle, not the cap–but the little plastic insert at the neck of the bottle that controls the flow of the bitters. Now I can’t shake the bottle into my water–I have to careful pour a little into the cap, then dump most of it back into the bottle, then splash a drop or two into my water.

      1. Kit*

        For the record, deliberately poisoning someone is a crime, even if they deserve it. Setting traps for human beings is illegal, and a judge is NOT going to buy that you just like your egg salad inedibly spicy.

        1. Fiennes*

          Poisoning is illegal, but making something very very spicy or just plain disgusting is not. So ipecac no, Tabasco yes.

          1. Jesmlet*

            If I was the thief and you added tobasco to an egg salad sandwich, I’d just steal more often. That sounds delicious

            1. Fiennes*

              At normal amounts, yes. But add enough of it and you’ll throw the egg salad thief a curveball that won’t be forgotten soon.

        2. AC*

          If you put a note on it saying, “Do not eat this, it’s poisoned and you will definitely get sick.” Take a picture to document that you had a warning on it, and someone eats it anyways, you did everything within reason to prevent someone from eating a poisoned sandwich. It’s got a clear warning and therefore no longer constitutes an unprotected trap.

          1. Aloot*

            I don’t think a judge would be terribly amused by that, either.

            And the workplace wouldn’t be either. I wouldn’t be so happy about getting myself fired even if a judge was willing to let it slide.

        3. Kindling*

          Yeek. As a person who likes spicy foods, this worries me a little. ‘Inedible’ is really subjective. I made some curry for myself and my boyfriend and I thought it was delicious; he couldn’t eat more than a couple of spoonfuls because it was actively hurting him. I just worry that if someone stole my lunch I could be charged with a crime. I guess my boyfriend could testify in court that I really legitimately like spicy foods?

          1. Not a Morning Person*

            You really need to to read the link Alison posted above about the food thief and his comeuppance. “A coworker stole my spicy food…”

        4. Anion*

          Put some hairs in/on it. That’s not poison, it could even be visible once the sandwich is unwrapped, but maybe they’ll stay away from your sandwiches after that.

    1. DaniCalifornia*

      You need a locking lunchbox! And perhaps a lot of freezer inserts and keep it at your desk. That is pitiful that someone would do that.

    2. Jesca*

      Our department at my last job bought hamburger meat. Someone stole ALL of the raw hamburger meat. It was early in the day too. Where did they stash it?!?!

          1. Electron Wisperer*


            The correct thing to hide (several of) around nightmare bosses office is a smoke detector fitted with the cheapest, nastiest dollar store batteries you can find.

            Months after you leave the action starts…. “BEEEEEP!”, Have you ever tried to track one of those things down by sound? Not easy.

              1. Falling Diphthong*

                And they terrify me. Even though I work at home and it is unlikely the cats can figure out how to order things off ThinkGeek.

              2. The Cosmic Avenger*

                Yes! Get an Annoy-o-tron! It emits short beeps at random intervals, far enough apart that it’s nearly impossible to track!

    3. Adlib*

      That’s definitely weird. It almost sounds like they did it with the express purpose of making your life harder.

      On a side note, that is a super interesting idea! Grapefruit bitters in water…I may need to try that.

      1. Anion*

        That’s what I was thinking. A note that says, “I hope you like the sandwich I spit in yesterday. I was really phlegmy, too.”

        (I normally wouldn’t advocate anything as gross as discussing phlegm, but in this case…)

    4. zora*

      Someone on the internet started making ziplock sandwich bags that are printed to make the sandwich inside the bag look moldy. You really need those bags.

  11. Adhyanon*

    My cooler ice packs for breast milk! I had a long commute by public transportation so I froze my ice packs in the communal freezer during the day. In a ziplock. With my name on it. The first time it was one of two. The second time it was both. That was a horrible place to work.

      1. Steve*

        I assume the milk doesn’t go in the ice packs, but rather the self-contained ice packs and the milk both go into a cooler.

    1. Kyrielle*

      Me too! Only once, and the woman who grabbed them – to keep groceries cool on the way home – was still there and gave them back sheepishly when I explained what they were for. She said (even tho, like you, I had them corralled in a labelled bag) that she thought they were the office first aid ones.

      …even if they were, and there was only one of those but hey, even if they were, shouldn’t those be *in the office* in case needed?

  12. Misspelled Forgery*

    Not such a petty crime, but it’s so dumb that I’m going to repost it (I posted it in the comments of the stolen jacket letter):

    In college I worked at a sandwich shop for about a month and then quit when I got a higher paying job at an office. A month or two into my new job, I went to buy something with my debit card and got declined. When I went to look at my bank account, I found that I was overdrawn due to a $500 check being cashed. When my bank sent me a copy of the check, I found that it was written to a former coworker of mine at the sandwich shop. She stole a check out of my purse and wrote it to herself.

    The funniest thing? When forging my signature, she misspelled my name. My name, spelled correctly, was on the upper lefthand corner of the check, of course. What a f***ing idiot.

    When I called my former sandwich shop they told me she had already been fired a week before for something unrelated. My bank reimbursed me and I filed a police report, but I don’t think the thief faced any consequences. Hope you bought some common sense with my stolen money, Gabby.

    1. Anna*

      While in college, a friend of mine had her credit card stolen and used. The person who stole it (someone else who lived in the dorms) signed her name wrong by adding an “S” where there was none (imagine that her last name was Steven instead of Stevens). The bank: Are you sure you didn’t make these purchases? My friend: The name is misspelled. I know how to spell my own name.

      1. Archie Goodwin*

        Same thing happened to me in college, less the misspelling – a girl who worked in the card-issuing office copied my debit card information, as well as that of a couple of other students, and was using it around campus and around town. She spent, as I recall, not even quite a hundred bucks from my account over the course of the semester. She was quite clever about it – I think the most she ever spent was eight or nine dollars at one go. So I noticed my debit card was losing a bit more money than I thought, but I thought I was just misremembering how much I’d spent.

        Didn’t find out about it until the beginning of the next semester when campus police called me in to talk about it.

        That’s it – I lost two bottles of Diet Coke from the office fridge, one each on two separate occasions, but I like to think someone just picked them up in error. Hasn’t happened in a while, anyway.

      2. JessaB*

        A friend had permission to use our phone card back before cellular phones. She was in the Navy. She had been stationed in Texas for training. Someone shoulder surfed the numbers of our AT&T card, and started using it. We called the phone company to report and they asked the usual “how do you know she didn’t make all those calls?” Well the answer was “they were made from a dormitory at a Navy base in Texas, she is currently stationed in Rhode Island. Here’s a faxed copy of her orders.

        No problem, charges reversed, but the joke here is, who the heck uses it ON the base, where they have full control of the phone system and it takes them five minutes to figure out who was being called and therefore who likely made the calls. At least leave the base and use a public phone. Someone got charged and then discharged.

      3. Former Hoosier*

        But sadly, I actually did mispell my name today on a credit card receipt. And I have had the same one for 45 years

      4. NotoriousMCG*

        Once in college my debit card was stolen. They charged a movie and Starbucks to it and I was SO MAD. Had to go through the whole cancellation and reordering the card. Was describing how pissed I was to my best friend and mentioned the charges. My friend then stopped talking, looked in her bag and said, ‘Oh sh*t.’

        She hadn’t given me my card back after paying at mcdonalds a few days before and because we used the same bank and looked just like hers she had been using it for three days

    2. Arya Snark*

      Years ago, someone stole a checkbook out of my purse while I was grocery shopping. He then wrote a check out to himself, put “prom” in the notes and signed my name, also spelling it incorrectly (and it’s a very simple name). Gabby and Damon could be twins!

      It took me a while to figure it out because I had pretty major surgery the day after the theft and didn’t try to spend any money for a while. I only found out when my rent check bounced. I filed a police report and the bank gave me back my money eventually, but not until after their branch security officer accused me of collusion and I raised a major stink about that one with their HQ. Good times!

      1. Misspelled Forgery*

        Goddamnit Damon, get your own prom money!

        Thankfully my bank believed me pretty quickly, as the check image proved that 1) my neat, forged signature looked NOTHING like my illegible, scribbly actual signature and 2) the legibility of the forgery made it SUPER obvious that my name was misspelled, which people normally don’t do with their own names.

        1. LN*

          I sign my name as an illegible scrawl, so I think it would be pretty clear my card was stolen if you could actually see any letters in my signature at all. That’s a comforting thought.

      2. Greg M.*

        that’s why I hate any time I ask my bank about security they are like “oh we guarantee you’ll get your money back if it it’s stolen” yeah a month later, gotta pay bills honey.

        For the record I kicked up a big fuss about the wireless pay on cards as well as the fact that the bank (used to) have passwords that A. didn’t allow symbols B. weren’t case sensitive C. only up to 8 digits and the best part D. if you pw was 8 digits you could type the 8 digits and then more and it would take it.

        1. Willow*

          Someone took $500 out of my account at an ATM (still no idea how)–the bank gave me a temporary credit until they investigated. I guess they would have taken it back if they determined I’d withdrawn the money?

          1. Ego Chamber*

            Yes, that’s exactly how it works.

            When I was doing call center work that was customer service for a bank, we’d get calls sometimes from people who had reported fraud that wasn’t actually fraud, and they were so pissed that we had “stolen [their] money” by removing the temporary credit when they didn’t want to press charges to continue the fraud process because they “couldn’t do that to family” or something—but they also didn’t think they should have to pay back the money, since they didn’t spend it.

            1. Jessen*

              Having read legal advice stuff, I feel really bad for people in that situation. No one wants to press charges on their parent or sibling. I also heard a few cases where the parent was “supporting” the child – while using the young person’s credit to do so. Completely understandable what one should do legally, but not a comfortable situation.

    3. a girl has no name*

      In college, a girl in my dorm stole her roommates debit card and used it down the street at the grocery store. The store had cameras. I’m sure those living arrangements were pleasant until she could move out. Oh, and the girl who stole the card was not kicked out of school and is currently educating America’s youth. Yikes!

    4. Thornus67*

      When I was in college, we all left our dorm rooms unlocked while we were there. Facilitate people coming in and being social and whatnot. Anyway, one day, a friend of mine says he got weird charges on his checking account. Like, 1-900 sex lines. He refuted the charges, and the company sent him a copy of the recording. Someone else in our dorm who we knew had gone in, stolen the checkbook, then called a sex line pretending to be my friend. And the university didn’t even kick him out of the dorm room because technically it wasn’t breaking and entering since my friend had left the door unlocked (probably as he went next door).

    5. LibraryGryffon*

      Someone did something like that to my sister when she was in college. She disputed the two forged checks (about $20 total maybe) and the bank just looked at the signature, which appeared to be done by a drunk five year old with a crayon, and said, “Yep, forgery, here’s your money back.”

      I on the other hand had the housemates from hell who would eat anything in the fridge if they were hungry, even if you had told them that that was all you had to eat for dinner the next day as you didn’t get paid until the day after. I quickly learned that one hated black olives and the other mushrooms, so, to this day, a pizza doesn’t seem right if it doesn’t have both of those on it.

  13. Rusty Shackelford*

    I had a box with two leftover slices of pizza in the fridge, and someone took one. I’ve always wondered if they thought they were being kind by leaving me half my lunch, or if they thought I wouldn’t notice, or what.

    1. Liz2*

      Was it a normal sized pizza box or a small box? If it were a normal pizza box, I might easily think it was leftover from a pizza party and available to all.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        No, it was a small box. And even if it had been a normal pizza box, there’s absolutely no reason to assume any pizza you find in the fridge is “available to all.”

        1. Liz2*

          There is in my office, but we have team lunches and events semi regularly with leftovers almost always available to all.

          Since yours was small, no way someone could have confused it.

          1. Serin*

            If we want to share food leftover from a party, we always put a huge note on it that says FOR EVERYBODY. I think it’s less because we want someone to eat it than because we want potential thieves to have no excuse.

            1. Specialk9*

              We don’t do that in my office. We just leave stuff in the kitchen, or on a table. Eventually someone throws it away. It would make sense to put up a sign, but we don’t.

    2. Samiratou*

      I almost stole someone’s pizza because it looked like mine and was in a similar bag (in a ziploc in a plastic bag from local grocery store chain). Fortunately I noticed before heating it and swapped them back, but if it was a common pizza chain, it’s possible it was a mistake? Probably not, but you never know…

    3. ACA*

      This happened to me, too! I had two slices of pizza in a gallon ziplock, and someone stole only one of them. So I still had SOMETHING to eat, but….

    4. It's-a-me*

      Someone in my office once accidentally stole and ate some pizza from the fridge, instead of their own. They offered theirs to the other coworker, only problem is said coworker is vegetarian and the uneaten pizza was barbecue meatlovers.

      How does anyone get those two confused?

  14. AnnaleighUK*

    Not me, but a co-worker, had her potted plant stolen and when she sent an office-wide email asking where it was, it quickly degenerated into a weird sort of office-based Taken thing. Ransoms were demanded – and sent from anonymous emails and IT wouldn’t help her find out who it was. Which makes me think IT had something to do with it. In hindsight she shouldn’t have used a quote from that film in the original ‘where is my peace lily?’ email but the office kind of rolls like that. It has since been returned, in full health!

    1. OtterB*

      My husband’s potted plant once disappeared at the office while he was on business travel. He asked around about it. The company president had taken it (moderate sized company, maybe 100 employees). There was apparently a hilarious company-wide email thread about how he could have it back if he promised to water it and not leave it to wilt.

      My husband is no longer in that job, but the plant survives on the windowsill at home, where we remember to water.

    2. LN*

      What a bizarre thing to steal. Like, I get why people steal useful things like food and office supplies – not that it’s justified, but it makes sense at least – but who sees a plant and is like I MUST HAVE THIS NOW, DAMN THE CONSEQUENCES!!!

    3. Millie M*

      Someone stole a big chunk of my peace lily. I had this gorgeous peace lily a coworker gave me. It had lots of little babies, and I was just about to dig some of them up and repot them so I’d have more peace lilies. Someone dug up a whole bunch of the baby plants, and I came in one morning and the pot was about half empty, with just little divots around the sides where the babies used to be. The plant-stealing jerk must have taken it out of my office, because there wasn’t any dirt on the floor. It was a very clean crime scene. After that I took the plant home, and now I have boring plants in my office that no one wants to steal.

      1. Specialk9*

        In college, I had a gorgeous Wandering Jew plant (I know, it really sounds racist, right? It’s that vine with variegated blue-green and white leaves and the backs are purple) and it kept dying. It got sun, it got the right amount of water. Finally one day I saw dirt on the floor, and my roommate confessed to having knocked it over, regularly, when piss drunk. She would just stuff it back in the pot, clean up, and of course it was dying from root exposure to oxygen. Plant criminals.

    4. Sabrina Spellman*

      A faculty member once had her peace lily stolen as well. I think it was from her MIL’s funeral, I’m a little shaky on the details, but I later found out it was never returned. Instead, another faculty member bought her a new one.

  15. Red Reader*

    I don’t know if this exactly counts, but someone tried to steal my chair out from under my butt once. Dude (who I’d never seen before) was going to a meeting in a conference room at the end of my cube farm row. I had no involvement in the meeting whatsoever, he wasn’t even meeting with people in my department, but he stopped at my cube and went “Your chair looks comfortable. I’d like to take it to this meeting.” I glanced up, all “ha ha,” because of COURSE he was joking, right? He wasn’t joking. He stood there for a solid three minutes waiting for me to get up out of my chair for him. Then he went “UGH!” and punched the cube wall and went to his meeting. I told the manager of the department he was meeting with. He was never seen or heard from in the cube farm again.

      1. Red Reader*

        It wasn’t even that comfortable of a chair!! Like, I might’ve let him have it if there had been an alternative within easy reach, haha.

      1. Red Reader*

        I feel like I probably would have done anyway, but if he hadn’t punched the wall, it would’ve been “haha, this weird thing happened,” not “you know that vendor y’all were meeting with this afternoon? HE PUNCHED MY CUBE WHEN I WOULDN’T LET HIM HAVE MY CHAIR.”

        1. Nea*

          A vendor. Who wants to do business with your office. Demanded your chair. And got violent when he didn’t get his way.

          There is not enough “wow” for this. Methinks someone is a little vague on how vendors get and keep business relationships.

        2. SunshineOH*

          He was a VENDOR? Wow. I would have 100% gone into that meeting and called him out before they even started talking. What an ass.

    1. EddieSherbert*

      We have a 99% remote employee (he comes in half a day twice a month for a specific meeting) who for some reason has a desk and has THE NICEST CHAIR. And he obsessively guards it.

      No monitor or supplies or anything at his desk. Just a name plate and a chair. So every time someone new starts, they basically accidentally take his chair (assuming it’s an empty desk and they can trade chairs) and then get REAMED OUT the next time he’s in the office. Because he marked the chair so he can find it and he WILL walk around the whole office to find the ‘thief’.

        1. EddieSherbert*

          Yeah, it’s one of those things! Like maybe we should warn people or something? But… he’s SO annoyingly over-the-top about it… so we let it happen. Haha.

          (It’s not like a “specially ordered for him” chair or anything!)

          1. kittymommy*

            It’s way over the top and yeah I can definitely see it being annoying but compared to all these little thief stories this guy with his “you will pry my chair out of my cold, dead, once a month hand” is cracking me up in Taco Bell!!

            1. Fur Princess*

              This reminds me of one place I contracted where the poor sod that had the cube right outside of the conference room took to locking his chair to his filing cabinet (think bike cable lock) because it had gotten rolled into the conference room by so many meeting attendees. He told me he started locking it when he got chewed out by his manager for interrupting a meeting to get his desk chair back in order to work!

          2. Jules the 3rd*

            You should warn people. Having a new person get yelled at for something that you know about and can prevent is unprofessional, hazing and downright mean.

            1. EddieSherbert*

              People tend to do the trade on “the down low”, so I don’t even notice until he’s noticed.

              … and I feel like it’d be weird to give them a pre-action warning at my introduction to them. “Hi! I’m Eddie in teapot spout design, nice to meet you! Don’t try to steal AngryGuy’s chair!”
              *chuckles at their imagined reaction*

      1. Code Monkey, the SQL*

        Ohh, that reminds me of my first week on project at my current job. There’s usually an interval between hiring and getting onto a project, so I had been in a little room watching training videos by myself for a while. When I finally got moved to a room with other people, I grabbed the available desk (which was empty except for a mouse pad and pencil cup), plugged my laptop, and started training with them.

        The next day…. “Who was at my desk? Someone moved my mousepad! Why is my chair all wrong? Who messed with my power strip!?” I had to humbly apologize to “Eddie” for messing up all his stuff, then go find an actual spare desk and chair, drag them down the hall, and wedge them into the new room. Ooof. Welcome to the project.

        1. ReanaZ*

          Too be fair, people try to hotdesk on my desk all the time and it is the most irritating thing in the world to get back to your desk and find it all messed up. A huge productivity waster for me. So maybe don’t leave people’s desks all messed up and put it back like you found it? (You changed his chair and didn’t fix it???)

          I don’t think Eddie is in the wrong here.

          1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

            It sounds like Code Monkey thought Eddie’s desk was empty (and intended by TPTB to be Code Monkey’s) because there was nothing that indicated it was anyone’s permanent desk.

            1. Rebecca in Dallas*

              Haha, my car has the kind of seats that you can program, so I can easily get it back to the way I like it. But EVERY DAMN TIME he uses my car, he messes with the way I have my A/C set. It drives me insane!

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        Okay, but if he’s in the office two half-days per month, and the dates of those meetings he attends are known, why not take his chair but put it back at his desk on the days he’ll be in the office?

    2. Simone R*

      I had totally forgotten about this-but my coworker had a croissant stolen out of his hand once! There were a bunch of leftover pastries from a meeting left out for the taking. He had just picked up one of the croissants and another coworker walked up to him and was like I want that one. We all stared at him blankly because there were many more in the platter! But then he just took the croissant out of his hand and walked away.

      1. Brandy*

        But it was in the guys hand. A: He wouldn’t have gotten it from me B: He doesn’t know where my hands have been C: I’d soooo report this to a manager.

        1. Ego Chamber*

          I probably would have yelled after him to that effect. Wtf. O_0

          “You don’t know where I’ve been, Lou! You don’t know where I’ve been!

        2. Rebecca in Dallas*

          “Maybe I should have washed my hands after I handled that dead woodchuck, but oh well. Enjoy that croissant!”

      2. Crystal*

        That’s happened to me. I bought a dozen doughnuts on the way to work (to share! because I’m nice!) and my boss wanted the flavor I was eating and took it right out of my hand.

        1. motherofdragons*

          Non-pregnant me probably would’ve laughed awkwardly and just filed that away as an incredibly weird story for later. Pregnant me? Fisticuffs.

      3. Your Weird Uncle*

        I feel like that’s got to be part of some crazy psychology class experiment, like my friend had in one of her classes. She had to do something that went outside conventional norms, like jump into a queue. Maybe he had to steal someone’s food and write a paper about it.

        Sidenote: I would have taken an F for that particular assignment.

          1. Mabel*

            The same class had students do this every year at my school, so after you had seen it the first time, you just didn’t react at all. The psychology students didn’t know what to make of the lack of reaction.

        1. Simone R*

          He was kind of a socially awkward guy in the first place-we thought he was kidding at first, but then when he followed through it was so bizarre! My theory is that he was trying to be funny and just failed.

        2. LavaLamp*

          Oh my god. I did this in high school for my sociology class. I chose something very benign; I got some Christmas bells and laced them into my boots. Annoying but not horrible.

          I shudder remembering the one student who clipped her toenails on the table at Golden Corral.

      4. Minister of Snark*

        I can actually see this happening. My husband was negotiating a rather sizable contract for a vendor to provide products for his department. The vendor was supposed to meet with them at DH’s office but “missed his flight.” When they arranged for a conference call that afternoon, Salesman was distracted, sounded bored and DH had to basically drag product details out of him. When DH mentioned that maybe they should just reschedule the meeting so they could speak face to face, Salesman made a comment about how he didn’t want to bother coming to our tiny little town anyway, “wasn’t worth the trouble.”

        DH asked, “Salesman, are you aware your regional sales director is on this call, too?”

        Salesman says, “Yeah, why?”

        Professional self-preservation. Dude didn’t have it.

        1. Snark*

          Yeah, sometimes, you just watch someone wander out in front of the freight train, and your’re like, “Watch out! A train!” and they’re like, “Nah, I’m good here on the tracks,” and you’re like, well, this will be a story.

      5. Delightful Daisy*

        I am laughing so hard at this and at the doughnut. Seriously, who the heck has that kind of gall? I knew I was lucky to work with the people I do but didn’t realize quite how lucky. I am picturing the look on the face of the person he took the croissant from, and the person whose boss stole her doughnut out of her hand. My colleagues are probably wondering what the heck is going on in my office.

    3. CMDRBNA*

      Ah! I worked for the feds and we had a terrible, terrible coworker. I had to bring my own office chair in because I was having back problems and he kept moving my chair to the office down the hall because he was a raging asshole.

      1. Nea*

        I brought in my own chair to deal with back issues and was told that it might be stolen. My reply was “I bet not if it’s hot pink.”

        And indeed, people treat my not-quite-Barbie-pink chair as if it’ll give them a disease. I buy my luggage on the basis of how likely it will be to make people flinch away from it as well (although the actually Barbie pink carry-on is the envy of every 8-year-old girl who sees it.)

          1. Nea*

            Precisely! Why tie on pom-poms or colored straps when the whole piece of luggage can be spotted across an entire airport?

            Samsonite’s “jungle colors” some years back were Barbie pink and neon lime green. Container Store, if there’s one near you, always comes out with uniquely patterned luggage every June that’s for sale for a couple months only. (I had one with purple paisley hearts from them, but I didn’t like the way it rolled.) Currently I’m working with a mostly white set from another country, and there is very, VERY little white luggage out there – especially covered in pictures of monuments from another nation. My “favorite” – I actually dislike it, but it suits my parameters – Vera Bradley duffle is bright orange.

            …not that I’ve put a lot of time and thought into my luggage or anything.

            1. Queen of Cans & Jars*

              My MIL bought me a purple plaid suitcase for Christmas one year. Can’t miss it on the baggage claim!

        1. But you don't have an accent*

          Yes!! This is my luggage theory tooo! I bought Tumi (since I travel over 80% of the time for work and they have a pretty decent warranty) and I went with this patterned luggage that has white, black, slate blue, and light pink spots all over it (it looks really cool). I have NEVER seen anyone else with it.

          1. birchwoods*

            I’ve found, weirdly, that it depends on the country. My suitcase is a beautiful jewel purple color, easy to see when everyone else’s is black and grey, until I traveled to Beijing where the black ones were the minority in a sea of colors and patterns. Odd.

          1. Dave Wheeler*

            I would have to get a complete Avengers set myself, not one of my coworkers would even bat an eye though, it would be expected from me :)

        2. Lissajous*

          Luggage doesn’t even have to be a super outlandish pattern or colour to be noticeable!

          My luggage failed to arrive once on a relatively short domestic flight. Went up to the counter, and about six or seven others had the same problem. All the luggage descriptions were standard “black roll-on,” navy roll-on,” etc. Then it was my turn:
          Me: Light blue Country Road duffel.
          Employee: Oh, that we’ll be able to find!

          They got it on the next flight and it was waiting for me at my hotel when I got back from dinner.

      2. Evan Þ*

        Misread that for a moment as “I worked for the feuds.” Which would make the story a bit more sensible.

    4. Robin Gottlieb*

      The same thing happened to me (except the wannabe thief was a woman)! After telling me how comfy my chair looked, I told her it was comfortable and that’s why I was planning to use it every day. She never bothered me again.

    5. ss*

      I wasn’t physically IN my chair at the time for this one, but it was obviously an in-use chair ….
      Our office has a giant open floor plan. Our desks are a long set of tables pushed next to each other to form what looks like a giant full-floor table with monitors spread across it. My desk was the only one with plants, pictures, cords, and all sorts of paraphernalia that shows that someone sits there. All the other seats (40 or more seats) are flat empty tables with NO items on it. Most of those seats are unused.

      Along the wall next to this long desk are the glass-walled conference rooms. I came in one morning and my chair was gone. I turned around and saw a meeting going on in the conference room and I made direct eye contact through the glass wall with the one person sitting in the back of the conference room in my stolen chair. I looked at her, looked at my empty chair space, then looked at EVERY other empty space around my seat that had their chairs before obviously walking over to take a chair from an empty space so that I could start work.

  16. Deirdre*

    I bought my husband a cool multiple outlet / surge protector for his desk with USB and plugs. Over the Christmas break, someone stole it from his desk. No easy feat; the thief had to crawl under his desk, move the small file cabinet to unplug it, snake the cord up through the hole in his desk, unplug the USB chargers and plugs – all to steal a $10 surge protector. I think his USB chargers were more valuable.

    1. Meeeeeeeee*

      Similarly (in terms of crawling required), somebody stole my boss’ iPhone charger… and replaced it with a Blackberry charger.

  17. C in the Hood*

    At one of my old jobs, lunches were mysteriously disappearing from the fridge. Some of the guys, who played basketball during their lunch hour, had a suspicion who it was, but couldn’t prove it. Then one day, they booby-trapped a lunch with invisible ink (you know, the kind you see at the back of an old comic book that reappears shortly after touching it). During basketball time, the culprit’s hands suddenly had that ink on them! He knew he’d been caught & I think he ended up getting fired.

  18. I'm A Little TeaPot*

    Question/possible solution to stuff being stolen out of the fridge: why are you putting your food in the fridge? Get ice packs. My office doesn’t have a fridge, so we put ice packs in our lunch bags and keep them at our desks. It takes a LOT more gumption to steal out of someone’s desk than the fridge.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Most people do this in my office because there are 4 people who have huge, diaper-bag sized lunch bags that take up the entire fridge. No one else can get fit their lunch in the fridge so we have some people with teeny-tiny mini-fridges and some who actually keep coolers at their desks.

      1. Something Something Anon*

        Yeah, I’m the jerk that would take stuff out of people’s HUGE lunchboxes, stack it neatly in the fridge, then put their lunch box on top of the fridge. I consider it countering their jerk lunchbox space entitlement. (But only if I was trying to fit my stuff in the fridge, not just because it was there.)

        1. DaniCalifornia*

          Lol I feel like I am constantly rearranging our fridge and stuff that is in it, and there are only 4 of us who use it regularly for lunches. But why do my coworkers constantly put their tiny takeout sauce containers on the shelves for tall things? Or their orange. We have a full size double door fridge.

          1. WellRed*

            The moms at my office put their kids sippy cups front and center. Put ’em on the door or tuck them to the side.

              1. Former Hoosier*

                I used to because the commute home was easier if my son had a sippy cup of milk to drink on the way home.

      2. Muriel Heslop*

        We have a mini-fridge and coffee maker in our “paperwork room” that has to be locked at all times to be HIPAA and FERPA compliant. 6 of us have a key so if anything goes missing, we know it’s one of 5 people. No issues so far!

      3. Michigan Sara*

        A lot of our guys (warehouse/logistics) bring huge lunch boxes, sometimes with multiple days of food. They aren’t allowed to put them in the fridge (space issues), so they leave them on the breakroom tables. Sometimes you have to shove them over to find a place to sit down and eat!

      4. Samiratou*

        This is a huge pet peeve of mine. Insulated containers belong at your desk. If you want to use the fridge put your stuff in a plastic bag or something that doesn’t take up 8x more space than your actual food.

    2. Brandy*

      I do this but I freeze my drinks in the freezer well before leaving my house so they are frozen when they get here. The ice packs work, but only so much.

    3. Brandy*

      I do this. But the ice packs only keep food soo cold. So I freeze my drinks when I get up so theyre frozen when I get here and are cold when im ready to drink.

    4. Breda*

      You would think so, but there are a bunch of stories here about people doing just that! In the “boss is stealing my lunch” story linked here, she even stopped bringing lunches that had to be kept cool – and the boss just started taking them from her desk.

      1. chocoholic*

        I used to have a boss who would just help herself to my lunch…..while I was eating it! I often brought chips with me and ate at my desk and she’d just help herself to some chips. I really liked her other than that very weird thing. I guess she did this to other people too.

        1. LN*

          I’d be tempted to keep lunch in an empty top drawer and close it between each bite. Just to see how committed she is to grabbing other people’s food. Would she open the drawer herself? Try to jam her hand in there real quick before you closed it? Then again, I’ve been working for myself for a long time and there’s probably a reason for that. :D

          1. Brandy*

            My moms boss, not due to stealing, but funny story, takes out her sandwich takes 1 bite seals the container again and puts it away. minute later takes out sandwich takes one bite and seals it again. repeat until finish.

    5. SJ*

      On days that I buy lunch and I don’t finish it, I leave it in the fridge for lunch the next day. I don’t feel like schlepping it home just to bring it back again. But I’ve never had my food stolen so maybe I’d do it if that were a thing in my office.

    6. Misspelled Forgery*

      But also… if you work with adults and have a shared office refrigerator, it shouldn’t be a huge ask to expect that your coworkers keep their hands in their own Tupperwares. I’d be pissed if I had to start bringing a cooler with ice packs to refrigerate my lunch because someone I work with and see every day isn’t respectful of my boundaries and doesn’t know or care to not steal food.

    7. Turquoise Cow*

      I have an insulated lunch bag I bring to work, with juice and a sandwich and maybe a few snacks. I’ve never put it in the fridge since it seems unnecessary. When I was a kid I brought a similar lunch to school and kept it in my (unrefrigerated) locker. No need for fridges now.

      1. MashaKasha*

        Same. My lunch seems to be doing just fine in the bag on my desk, for the few hours until lunch anyway. The fridge fills up too fast and is all around a pain to keep my lunch in.

    8. kittymommy*

      Well that’s assuming they can do that. I’ve worked quite a few places where I couldn’t habe anything at my desk/station or there simply wasn’t enough room.

    9. Another person*

      My desk is inside a lab, so I’m not allowed to store food at it (even if it was in a sealed bag). So I have to keep it in the lunchroom and no one has stolen any of my food on purpose–sometimes they take the wrong apple or something. My sister also works in a similar environment and once had her lunch stolen, but it was then returned 15 minutes later by a very apologetic lady who had an identical lunch box (I think she had taken her lunch to eat outside on a nice day). It should be (although clearly isn’t) perfectly normal to have your lunch where you left it in a workplace of adults.

    10. Starbuck*

      This is probably true for a lot of people, but I bring my lunch to work every day and yet don’t own a lunchbox. I make all my lunches so that the entire meal fits in one glass container (rice bowl, pasta, etc) that I put in my tote bag. This way I don’t have to lug a lunch box, nor deal with any extra dishes. I can’t imagine how pissed I’d be if I had to change my easy routine because people stole my food!! Plus, much more satisfying to catch the thief.

    11. AJ*

      Fortunately food isn’t stolen from the office fridge. Unfortunately people leave food in there rotting for months. Heaven up you if you dare clean it out, which only even happens when it the smell permeates the office. Never use it for food because it disgusting!

      Have a freezable lunch pack (the freezer packs are built-in and the whole thing goes in the freezer overnight, so the food doesn’t get ‘frozen’ from direct contact with the freezer packs) that sits on my desk.

  19. anonykins*

    My fork and spoon, all the damn time. People can’t be bothered bringing their own, so they’ll take whatever’s in the kitchen. I now have a second set I keep in the office.

    Once thought someone had stolen my plate, too – turns out they had used it and then placed on a shelf so high I wasn’t able to find it again. A taller coworker noticed it after I complained….

    1. Eve*

      That was an issue at my husband’s old company so one year for Christmas everyone got a set of silverware engraved with their name.

    2. TootsNYC*

      I once bought a set of 8 for my department to use and labeled the handles w/ a P-touch labeler.

      It took about 8 months, but they were all gone.

      1. AnnaleighUK*

        I use cutlery that’s for children and has cartoon characters all over it. Cutlery theft doesn’t happen from my desk anymore!

    3. Ol' Crow*

      They likely placed it that high up so it would remain available to them rather than be found by the original owner, and this way they can say if they’re found out that they didn’t steal it, they put it back in the cupboard. Coming from someone who, as a child, figured this was the best way to get at my sister’s stuff but not get in trouble for stealing.

    4. Trig*


      I assume silverware in the communal kitchen is communal. We have plates and mugs and glasses that are company branded, so definitely communal, and I just… assumed the few bits and bobs of silerware were too.

      I usually bring my own (and bring it back home), but on occasion if I forget, I’ll use what’s there, wash it, and put it back. SOMETIMES I am guilty of absentmindedly putting it in my lunch bag and bringing it home.

      But I am now thinking I’ve been wrong all this time, and perhaps unknowingly driving someone insane by using their silverware. Whoops.

      1. JeanB in NC*

        I would also assume any silverware in a communal kitchen is for everyone. If I bring in my own cutlery, I wash it after the meal and put it in my desk, and I guess I just thought that’s what everyone would do.

        1. Triplestep*

          Me, too. I typically bring my own real (not plastic) cutlery with my lunch, but if I forget it and I find some in the communal kitchen, I don’t think someone has stored her own there. I think it would be fine to use, wash, and put back.

    5. Telo*

      At a previous job we kept our personal coffee mugs on a shelf in the break room, but the news hadn’t gotten to at least one person that those were personal mugs and you were supposed to bring your own in. I discovered this when I found that someone had used my mug to eat 3/4 of a mugful of oatmeal and then stuck it back on the shelf without cleaning it. I discovered it after enough time had passed that it had hardened to almost the consistency of concrete. Kept it on my desk after that, once I’d managed to chip all the oatmeal out of it and washed it in scaldingly hot water.

      1. Delightful Daisy*

        This reminds me of a mug story at a long ago job. Someone stole a coworkers coffee mug and broke the handle off. Instead of owning up, they taped the handle back on and put it back in the cupboard. It was easy to figure out who it was. He did this not once but twice. Chuckling about it all these years later.

        This is seriously the best thing I’ve read online in awhile. I can’t stop giggling.

        Sorry that someone was so seriously thoughtless with your mug.

    6. MCL*

      I have a really nice camping set of silverware with its own case. It stays in a drawer at my desk so that I never have to hunt for a utensil at lunchtime.

  20. Antilles*

    My wife had a little glass jar at her desk that she’d keep candy in and people would grab a piece of candy as they walked by, which is totally fine and understandable.
    One day someone stole the jar.
    Nobody gets candy any more.

    1. CMDRBNA*

      I have a candy dish on my desk at my office, and I have to remember to put it away at night. I don’t mind the cleaning crew taking a few pieces, but I was coming in and it was being emptied EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. It’s not a damn grocery store.

      1. nonegiven*

        Cleaning person was bringing her kid at night. The kid was going through everyone’s desk drawers and eating their snacks and playing with the computers. They told her it needed to stop but it didn’t. She got fired and they hired someone to do the cleaning in the daytime.

      1. Happy Lurker*

        I was going wrapped candy only for the last 6 months, but it seems like we were going through too much. I have switched to clementines for a month and I cannot keep up with demand. But it’s getting to be sick season so…

      2. MyInnerDemonLikesCookies*

        I just had a reminder of why I need to be careful when I read the comments here when I’m at work because I just let out a laugh (and I’m in a quiet area). That comment about the Finger Licker is too funny.

    2. You're Not My Supervisor*

      These stories amaze me. I have a crappy trick or treating pail from a McDonald’s happy meal that I keep candy in at my desk. I once left it in the kitchen because I wanted all the candy to get eaten before a long holiday break… once the candy was gone, someone returned the pail to my desk. Not even sure how they knew it was mine. And I work at a big company where I don’t know people 2 rows over! How can people steal nice jars off another person’s desk??

    3. Adlib*

      At a previous job, I used to have a candy dish. Suddenly, it started being empty after every single weekend. Then one day the dish was gone (it was a ceramic Longaberger dish that a former coworker had given me). No more candy. And now I’m sad about the dish again. (I think the weekend cleaning crew did it as we didn’t have weekend hours.)

    4. Alli525*

      I used to buy gum for my team. They were absolute addicts (two pieces at a time, all day – I can only imagine what that did to their GI tracts), but they usually tossed me enough cash to cover it all, plus I didn’t mind anyway, we had a pretty strong family vibe going on between the 4 of us. I kept the drawer locked, though, because other people at my company did NOT give me money and therefore didn’t get to partake. Then one day I was out, and one of my team members was so annoyed that my drawer was locked that he BROKE IN and took the gum.

      After that, I refused any money he gave me and he did not get any more gum. It was actually a little heartbreaking because that permanently damaged our relationship/friendship.

        1. No more kisses*

          I had a bowl of Hershey kisses on my desk in grad school, which people (mostly me) would nibble at. Someone – a friend, and I didn’t really care – would take quite a few when he was working late and I wasn’t there. Well, I had this habit of crumpling up the wrappers and adding them to a little wrapper nucleus. One day, I ate enough for it to be the same size as a Hershey kiss and I molded it to the same shape and left it in the bowl, because the trash can was just too far away. Lo and behold I get a text from this friend saying “you are just evil! I thought I was going to get the last kiss and I bit into a ball of aluminum!” Apparently he hadn’t looked after unwrapping it before popping it into his mouth. Maybe some of your candy thieves could use this experience of being… foiled again?

    5. Rachel Green*

      I used to keep a jar of candy at my desk, to try to encourage people to come visit. But, people would just wait until I was away from my office to grab candy. Every time I returned to my desk after being away, more candy would be gone. I finally stopped buying candy.

      1. Anonymous for this comment*

        Hahaha, there is a VP at my company who has really good candy in her candy jar. I have no reason to ever go into her office to meet with her (she is over a totally different division), but I have to pass her office on my way to my desk. So anytime she’s not in there, I grab a piece of candy. I regret nothing!!!!!

      2. Sabrina Spellman*

        I have a pencil cup full of candy so people won’t be sad when they don’t get the answer they’re looking for from me. It seems to work! My office neighbour has admitted to taking a fair share of candy when I’m out though.

  21. AndersonDarling*

    There was an epic pie thievery a few years ago. Someone purchased pies to have at a meeting the following day and someone from the night shift took them. It was common for the late shift to grab some leftovers from morning events, but in this case, the whole pies were missing. People took whole pies. This led to a lock being put on the storage fridge. The lock was broken the first night it was installed.

    1. Solidus Pilcrow*

      When no one was looking, Lex Luthor took forty cakes. He took 40 cakes. That’s as many as four tens. And that’s terrible.

    2. Floundering Mander*

      They broke the lock? To me that would be a firing offense. I don’t care about the pie so much but damaging company property to satisfy your greed would have you kicked out of my imaginary company posthaste.

  22. anonykins*

    the pranksters in my office once stole someone’s water bottle and then sent ransom notes, including pictures of the water bottle in torture situations. victim wasn’t too happy about it….

    1. SNS*

      My boss likes to do that with a coworker’s bobbleheads, but cw thinks it’s pretty funny and will send notes back (“remember to feed him twice a day, tell him I miss him”)

      1. Elemeno P.*

        This sounds fun! My coworkers and I like to turn each other’s decorations upside down or backwards and see how long it takes them to notice. They once hid pictures of some annoying cartoon character all over my desk and it took me 6 months to find the final one. I like pranks.

        1. Your Weird Uncle*

          I worked in an office where (for some reason) we printed off photos of David Hasselhoff and put them in obscure spots in one guy’s office, like under his phone receiver, in the top right corner of a picture frame, etc. It climaxed one week he was gone in a map being turned into The United States of David Hasselhoff.

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            I worked in one place where we had this Everybody Loves Raymond DVD that nobody wanted so we used to sneak it into each other’s bags kind of like reverse theft and also do stuff like change people’s desktop wallpaper to match.

          2. MissMaple*

            Ha, I used to work at a SpaceX competitor and we’d hide pictures of Elon Musk in random places; on the backs of doors, in books, etc. Particularly that picture from some magazine where he looks like he’s going to single-highhandedly conquer space.

          3. Annie Moose*

            We have a series of increasingly zoomed-in pictures of my coworker’s face that we print off fresh copies of every once in awhile to hide all over the place. The best I ever did was to cut out my coworker’s head, carefully trim it to fit, and tape it to the bottom of another coworker’s mouse… with a hole cut out for the laser to get through. He didn’t notice for a solid week!

        2. Telo*

          A couple of weeks after I started at a former job, I had the evening shift and my coworkers handed me fake spiderweb and candy to decorate my supervisor’s cube with for his close-to-Halloween birthday, and told me to hide as much as I could. It was an exceptionally boring shift (my job was basically to be there in case the student workers had a problem, and to lock the door when we closed), so I festooned the cube liberally and hid the entire bag. Luckily he thought it was hilarious, but when he left the organization and I moved into his cube two years later, I still kept finding candy.

        1. Fiennes*

          I enjoy minor/victimless pranks, but something about the noose and torture photos makes this sound incredibly creepy to me.

          1. Esme Squalor*

            Same! Symbolically lynching your coworker’s possessions is not a hilarious prank. I don’t know, but it gives me the creeps. I would be genuinely freaked out if someone did that with my stuff.

            1. Floundering Mander*

              Me too, especially if there were any kind of racial/cultural/etc. differences between the coworker and the people pulling the “pranks”.

          2. nonegiven*

            I think I would show the pictures to my boss and say I don’t think I can keep working at a place that would steal my water bottle that I paid for with my own money and taunt me with it like that and if it wasn’t returned unharmed by x time on date, that date would be my last day and my last act would be a police report for theft and criminal intimidation.

    2. JD*

      Yeah. I frequently hide my coworkers’ coffee mugs when they leave them unattended in the kuerig. Just the people that I get along with though. But it’s fun to watch when they find their coffee-sicle in the freezer ;)

    3. Adlib*

      I used to have a boss who complained about not having an office. So we built her one out of cardboard (utilizing her cubicle walls as well) and drew decorations on it. It was pretty fantastic!

    4. Shelby Drink the Juice*

      At a previous job a coworker brought in a The Rock bobble head. It was kidnapped. The person was sent hostage photos some with The Rock holding a newspaper to prove the date. He was photographed being waterboarded, tied up, under a tire from a car in the parking lot. It was hilarious. People set up a memorial wall outside the guy’s cube with flashlights (candles), stuffed animals, lists of phone numbers for grief counseling, etc. It went on for a couple of weeks. Our senior manager would walk by and just shake his head.

      The ransom demand (done via letter cut outs from a magazine) was for two large pizzas and soda. The Rock was suddenly found on a break room table in a non-descript box.

      I knew who did it, I was an accomplice in the photo taking. The coworker found out a couple of years later and was a bit shocked who did it. It’s still a legend for the hilarity.

        1. Specialk9*

          Yeah. The prank was funny until you thought torture was funny. One shouldn’t have to explain why TORTURE IS NOT FUNNY.

    5. Rebecca in Dallas*

      Haha, I love stuff like this!

      One of my coworkers kept a stuffed dachshund at his desk. When coworker went on vacation, we took tons of pictures of the stuffed dog doing things around the office: drinking coffee with us, working on a spreadsheet, in a meeting, etc. Every day we would post a picture on Facebook and tag the coworker, so he could see that we found a replacement for him in the office.

  23. KHB*

    We had a book thief on the loose a number of years ago. Because of the nature of our work, most of us keep a couple of shelves full of college-level textbooks to use as reference material. One day, I noticed that two of mine were missing. (Actually, what I noticed were the two new books on the shelf that were definitely not mine – the thief had used them to fill the hole.) I sounded the alarm, and soon others were reporting books missing as well. The employer paid for replacements for all of them, which was nice – but then the replacements started getting stolen. We all keep our books in locked cabinets now.

    The thief had definitely done their homework, taking the books that had the highest value on the resale market. As far as I know, they were never caught.

    1. Construction Safety*

      That stirred an old memory. At my first job, I had an engineering textbook stolen. I chalked it up to someone ‘borrowing’ it & forgetting to return it, but still. . . .

    2. PB*

      My boss took one of my personal reference books once and put it in her office. I don’t think it was malicious; she just grabbed it for reference and forgot. I just took it back.

        1. ss*

          I don’t use bookplates because they can be stripped off. I write my name in ink on the cover (not the first blank cover page because that can be cut out). This way if the person tries to remove my name, they either have to be obvious with whiteout or cut the actual book cover.

          1. LibraryGryffon*

            At my last job with very expensive medical reference books, I’d mark the margins of several specific ‘random’ pages with the library property stamp.

      1. KHB*

        Yeah, we also have a low-level problem of people “borrowing” others’ books and forgetting to give them back. (Confession: I’ve occasionally been one of the culprits in that.) So my first reaction was to send an email around asking if anyone had borrowed the books in question, or otherwise knew where they were. Nobody had, but that’s when other people started noticing their own books missing. Including multiple copies of the same (pricey) book, from different people’s offices. So the thief definitely wasn’t taking them for their own personal use.

    3. Muriel Heslop*

      When my Dad taught at Wharton he could not believe the number of students who stole each other’s notes/books in order to gain a competitive advantage. Unbelievable

      1. Serin*

        When I was in journalism school, there was a story going around about a student who tore a page out of the classroom phone book so he could verify the spelling of the source’s name but no one else could.

        (On the other hand, the source for this story was the professor, who was an old crusty sort, so it could have been made up to communicate to us the kind of cutthroat competition that the prof approved of.)

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I loaned a fellow student my French book near the end of the year. He never returned it and ducked me after that. I think he may have sold it back to the bookstore. Boy, was I pissed–I wanted to keep it.

      3. Trillian*

        My test tube vanished from the hot bath during one of our tortuous 4 hour analytic labs in undergrad. However. I’d identified two ions in my mix, and the other two formed a unique colour. Rather than spend hours working my way through the flow chart, like everyone else, I got to leave early and still got full marks. Really hope whoever took it wasn’t one of the premeds.

    4. M-C*

      Ouch. Stealing to resell is beyond the pale. In the old days, when we still had paper books, people were sometimes negligent in returning reference books they borrowed, sometimes without asking. The big black initials on the spines in all 4 directions helped me get almost all of them back. I ‘d be chatting with someone in their cube, notice one of mine on their bookshelf, just pull it out.. But clearly that wouldn’t work with library books

  24. starsaphire*

    I’m not sure that this even counts, but…

    About three jobs ago, the new receptionist at my building took a serious liking to my then-husband. (We had the kind of office where it was common for family members to drop by, so it wasn’t weird that he came by a couple of times a month to take me to lunch or whatever.) She started flirting with him pretty outrageously, and frankly neither of us thought much of it…

    …until I started not getting my phonecalls put through, started getting calls for other people routed to me, and had a package mysteriously disappear. This was before most people had non-business email or cell phones, btw.

    So I started picking up my packages straight from the mailroom, and I advised people not to call me at work, but things were weird for a while until the receptionist got engaged… and somehow my calls started coming through again.

    (It was a long time ago, and no, I didn’t think it was worth getting her in trouble. I couldn’t prove anything, and it was really only a nuisance and didn’t impact my work, because it didn’t affect internal calls.)

      1. MashaKasha*

        I cannot understand what the receptionist expected to happen. “Hey, if I don’t put her calls through and misplace her package, her husband, who doesn’t even work here, might fall in love with me and ask me out and we will live happily ever after.” What even.

        1. starsaphire*

          Oh, no one would ever have accused this lady of logical thought, trust me.

          (And that’s not to demean receptionists in general. I’ve been a receptionist; in a busy office, it’s a hectic, demanding job.)

      2. AnnonaMouse Please*

        Actually ,at OldJob, I could have been convicted of “stealing” the one cute single salesman FROM the receptionist

        1. Marillenbaum*

          I hope that wench’s brownies never worked, and it was a continual source of sadness and discord in her marriage.

          1. Specialk9*

            Ha, yeah! Sigh… Ex wife used to make me moist chocolatey brownies. I’m not saying something is missing from my life, exactly, but…

    1. Anon anon anon*

      I got rejected for a volunteer job because the director thought I might be competition for a co-worker who she was interested in. He and I were both in relationships with other people.

      At least this is what I was told by other people who worked there. It matches what happened, but I have no way of knowing for sure.

    2. ss*

      I had a coworker pull a similar stunt. I found out that whenever I’d be out of town, she’d call my house and ask my husband if he wanted to ‘hang out’. He was honest enough to tell me about her calls. She and I weren’t social friends at all so there was no reason for her to ever call my house.

  25. AnonForToday*

    I used to work in a catty, toxic and cliquey marketing agency. One day, the entire office received a mass email from, let’s call her Ursula, complaining about a missing pork chop. While it was years ago, the email said something to the effect of:

    My food has gone missing and I can only assume someone took the liberty to eat it. I was really looking forward to having that pork chop for my lunch. No worries- I just hope whomever enjoyed it doesn’t get trichinosis from the slightly undercooked meat.

    I mean… what an ass! Her email became the inside joke of the century. I still laugh about it.

    1. BananaRama*

      Someone did something similar when we had a fridge clean out! We had emails a week before, day before, same day, AND reminders on the fridge to grab stuff between xx and xx hours – I think it was like 1 hour max the fridge needed to be empty. Anything left was gone. We cleaned house and someone sent out a email complaining about their food being thrown out. I still think of it to this day.

      1. Karen D*

        We did have someone scream “theft!” after a advance-scheduled and well-noticed fridge cleanout. What was obnoxious was that maybe a quarter of the food in the fridge was hers, most of it was in recycled containers like old cream cheese tubs and almost all of it was well past the “science experiment” stage.

        She argued that the containers should have been washed and saved for her, and was doubly angry because there were some expensive Pyrex dishes in the drainer that she thought the fridge clean-out crew HAD washed and saved (when in fact it was the owner of the expensive Pyrexes – Pyrexii? – who had heeded the posted notices and saved their own containers).

        Her white-hot fury was even more notable because other than that, she was a fairly unremarkable co-worker. She’s been gone a few years and all anyone remembers about her is that she was Fridge Meltdown Woman.

      1. Alli525*

        Well, reheating a pork chop would probably take care of slightly undercooked meat and any germs… then again it would also work for the thief, so it just wasn’t a very good point, maybe.

    2. Arya Snark*

      My cat once came running into the house with a baggie in his mouth that contained a cooked pork chop. Maybe it was him!

    3. OlympiasEpiriot*

      Her lunch was stolen and you call her an ass? Maybe she was, but having one’s lunch stolen is not the reason. Whoever did it cost her money and, hey, she was looking forward to it. So the trichinosis thing was silly, but, I’d have been tempted to say something similar.

      1. AnonForToday*

        I was referring to her approach. The entire thing was a knee-jerk reaction. The best thing to do in these situations is to have HR send out a non-targeted, non-specific email about refrigerator etiquette. The thing very well could have turned up after taking another look through the fridge. Not only was her email accusatory, but it was malicious. So, yes, sorry.

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          HR at my company wouldn’t do anything about this, and we’ve got about 150 people.

          And, being hungry and finding the lunch gone (and maybe not having money in one’s wallet to get something can make people have quite the “knee-jerk reaction”. Have a little empathy.

          1. Nervous Accountant*

            Yeah I didn’t get why having her lunch stolen and she emails everyone makes her an ass, BUT if she was also a really nasty person, then it makes sense in context I think. I can think of one or two people who are pretty nasty and I wouldn’t be sympathetic to them with this.

            1. Starbuck*

              Well, there’s no way to be aggressive-aggressive if she doesn’t know who stole it. That’s pretty much the only option in situations like this. As someone who can get in a very bad mood when I am already hungry and food plans fall through, I empathize with her need to communicate that displeasure in a way that makes it certain the thief will hear about it, even if everyone else in the office has to be dragged into it too.

        2. JB (not in Houston)*

          why does it need to be nonspecific? I don’t understand why, if your lunch gets stolen, you can’t send out an email that says “my lunch of [X food] is missing.” People complain about passive-aggressive notes all the time. Well, this one is pretty direct, which is what most people say they prefer. Are there facts that are missing from your story? I don’t understand why are you assuming the food was still in there rather than stolen, given that lunches get stolen all the time (see this thread).

          I don’t think her email was the best phrasing, but I really don’t see why it’s bad as you’re framing it as.

          1. AnonForToday*

            I’ve had my lunch stolen before. Yes, it sucks. But a simple, “My lunch has gone missing. In the essence of not making any accusations, I’d very much appreciate if we could all be mindful of one another’s personal belongings in the refrigerator,” would have sufficed. Instead, she acted out of malice with the trichinosis wish. Even if meant to be funny, it wasn’t.

            My point about HR is that they need to own their responsibility in handling employees’ complaints, comfort and happiness in the workplace. So if raised, it would then be their responsibility to at least attempt to address it. It wouldn’t be passive-aggressive, necessarily.

            Overall, the woman lost credibility with a lot of us with the snarky comment. I left the company shortly thereafter, but I believe she had a talking-to and I also believe there to not have been any additional lunch “thievery.”

      2. Floundering Mander*

        Hmph. So person whose lunch was stolen is an ass because she sent out a snarky email, yet others are cheering the idea of spiking food with extra hot sauce, hairs, etc. in order to catch a lunch thief.

        I don’t get it.

    4. Nervous Accountant*

      Wait, I don’t get wha’ts wrong with what she said why is she an ass? Is she also a catty, toxic cliquey person otherwise? I’m confused. I’d be upset if someone stole my lunch! (I didn’t take the trichinosis as something that was really in there tho?)

    5. MommaTRex*

      I was practically accused of stealing a coworker’s mug once – because I owned an identical one. She found it later. I never got an apology, of course. My very common Starbucks mug now has my name on it.

  26. Corky's wife Bonnie*

    Nothing was actually stolen, but a former co-worker called me on her way home in a panic that she left her Uggs out in her cubicle and asked me to lock them in her drawer. I told her nobody would think of stealing them (there’s only about 25 people in my office and none of them wear or even like Uggs), but she responded, “well, I don’t know about the cleaning people” (he’s a dude). She still insisted I do it, so I went to put them in her drawer and they were the ratty and dirty. Yeah, someone would steal those, whatever.

    1. Lady Phoenix*

      I could see someone stealing Ugg boots to resell them — same with any namebrand item.

      But if they are ratty as fuck, that would take WAY too much work.

  27. Snarkus Aurelius*

    Wannabe perpetrator here…

    I work in a not so great environment right now. A woman got the office next to mine when she got kicked out of her old one because no one wanted her around on her old floor.

    I don’t mind so much she took the office, but she also put her stuff in the empty common area next to it. One of the things I want to steal? A dry erase board where she writes “inspirational” quotes.

    I hate that empty nonsense in general, but it’s especially annoying when those quotes are in the middle of environment that’s the complete opposite! Oh we succeed together and we fail together? Then why is nothing ever your fault? Oh thinking outside the box will move us forward? You haven’t changed a single approach to anything in 15 years unless it was ordered by someone else. God forbid someone suggest automating anything.

    Anyway I want to steal the board. Seriously. Yes, I know the dry erase board isn’t to blame, but I want the stupid quotes to stop because they’re insensitive and clueless. I have no idea why she writes that garbage.

    (I also want to steal the ugly artwork in the hall that clearly came from the TJ Maxx discount bin.)

    1. Bow Ties Are Cool*

      Have you considered selectively editing the quotes to be snarky or bizarre? “We succeed together but we fail alone”, “Thinking outside the box will move our bowels”, etc.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Ooo, and I’d use Sharpie while doing it.

        (You can remove sharpie from a dry erase board, but most folks don’t realize that or know how to do it.)

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              For what it’s worth, alcohol is the ingredient in hairspray that removes ink. You can just use plain rubbing alcohol.

          1. Alli525*

            In addition to dry erase marker, as MommaTRex said, nail polish remover and other acetone-based products will do this. Eventually it will damage the whiteboard, but once in a while it’s okay.

          2. Lady at Liberty*

            My guess is alcohol wipes- that’s how Sharpie graffiti got cleaned off the inside of a subway car.

          3. Sputnik*

            Ethanol dissolves Sharpie ink! It’s also good for cleaning whiteboards with really really old dry erase ink on them.

            (I work in a lab where we use ethanol to sterilize things, and we have to use special ethanol-resistant markers because labels in sharpie ink get dissolved very very quickly.)

          4. Specialk9*

            Write over Sharpie with dry erase, then erase. It’s weird but works. Though obv just on dry erase boards.

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        Sample ideas:

        If we succeed together, then I want a raise too because you got one.

        Failing together is when you blame the webmaster for not updating your part of the website because you never sent new content.

        Thinking outside the box and the mailbox. As in stop snail mailing registration forms and having an overworked program coordinator enter data in manually and start doing all of this online. (Seriously she picks on the lowest paid person and refuses to automate anything. We’re so technologically advanced now she has no excuses other than the manual way is the better way.)

        Ah I want to steal so bad!;

    2. Doug Judy*

      I hate those sayings too. I prefer sarcastic demotivators.

      On the topic of things you’d like to steal, I had a coworker who was in her 50’s that would spray this god awful cotton candy scented body spray occasionally. It was horrid. She kept it in her desk and every time she was on vacation I wanted to take it or replace it with water.

      1. beanie beans* has amazing sarcastic demotivators. I’d love to see one on snarkus’s coworker’s board! :)

          1. beanie beans*

            “If a pretty poster and a cute saying are all it takes to motivate you, you probably have a very easy job. The kind robots will be doing soon.”

            1. Clewgarnet*

              Robots are starting to do mine.

              Which is why I’ve become the company expert on those specific robots.

      2. Anon again*

        One time, Demotivators had a sale and I bought about 10. Then one night I came into the office and replaced all the framed motivational posters with Demotivators that were similar in color/orientation. It took over a month before the manager noticed and totally lost her mind. Not really theft though, I left the originals stashed in the plans file drawer.

        I kept quiet.

        1. Adlib*

          So “lost her mind” could go either way. I think I would scream-laugh. Did she laugh or yell? Also? Well done! I always think of doing that when I see those stupid motivational posters.

          1. Anon again*

            It wasn’t good. The witch hunt lasted literally 2 weeks, until the next !Outrage! occurred. And I can’t even remember what that was. Glad I don’t work for her anymore.

        2. TootsNYC*

          If at all possible, I’d have left the old ones in the frame, underneath the new one.

          This is my kind of prank.

            1. ss*

              Oh yes…. we once received an all-staff bitchy memo from the Executive Assistant complaining about all of our procedures. It was so poorly written (misspellings, sentence fragments, wrong words, etc…). I took a red marker, gave it a complete edit, and put it back in her mailbox. She was furious. LOL.

    3. Adlib*

      I’d draw on it. I used to work at a place (I hated that job, but I had some good friends there at least) where the engineers/CAD designers made notes or did design discussions. One day they were goofing off and drew animals and cartoons on it. To this day, thinking of that board makes me laugh! At the time, I laughed so hard my eyes watered!

    4. Serin*

      I had a co-worker who bought a motion-detecting croaking frog once. And set it outside her cubicle, which was right across from the restrooms and water fountains. It made noise all day long. Everybody wanted to steal that thing!

      1. Starbuck*

        Sounds like a great way to deal with anxiety if you happen to be in an exposed cube where there is a lot of foot traffic at your back. Hopefully people resisted the urge to steal it.

        1. annon*

          Oh gods, no. That’s no excuse. If you need an accommodation, find one that doesn’t torture everyone else. You don’t get some free pass to be an obnoxious jackass just for having anxiety.

    5. bohtie*

      we have a big empty dry erase board in my office. my grand-boss once drew a christmas wreath on it and no one has bothered to erase it since. my boss won’t do it because he feels bad about erasing a doodle that his boss is genuinely fond of and it’s not like we need the board for anything else. i won’t erase it because she’s not the world’s greatest artist and the bow on the wreath absolutely looks like a giant cartoony penis and it makes me laugh every time i go into the room

  28. Chocolate lover*

    What timing. Our office suite was broken into last night. Campus police have been going through for hours, taking pictures, talking to everyone , etc. At least one laptop and some money are missing. Looks like they only went through half the offices.

      1. Your Weird Uncle*

        Once the HR team in my old office building got broken into over the weekend because someone left the window open a crack – the squatters made themselves a lot of tea and presumably stayed there overnight, but I don’t think anything else was stolen. :)

        1. chocolate lover*

          Maybe that’s why the hot chocolate box was completely empty this morning!

          Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me. When our house was burgled as a child, they stole food out of the fridge and toys from my little brothers.

          1. Chinook*

            My house was burgled as a child while we were away at family for Christmas. Turned out my sister’s “friends” remembered how she would get in the house when she forgot her key.

            Joke is on them, though. Nothing of value was left under the tree except for a bottle of bubble bath that was shaped like a champagne bottle. We all laughed at the thought of teens trying to get drunk on it only to get their mouths washed out with soap.

    1. Ama*

      We had that problem when I worked in a university building where we were a random floor of offices and cubicles sandwiched between floors of classrooms and a computer lab. There was no way to prevent access to the cubicles once you made it onto the floor — we had to lock off our stairs and have the security guard start locking off our floor on the elevator after 5 pm. (I actually think it wasn’t actual students, but people who knew that our building didn’t have the security gates that required you to scan your ID — it was very easy to slip past the security guard if you came in with a pack of students.)

      1. chocolate lover*

        Theoretically, our suite has locks on all doors, but someone may not have shut something completely, who knows. Then burglars managed to find the (flimsy) lock box with the master key and broke it open, and were able to get into individual offices. I don’t know if someone knew the key was there, or if it was just a case of “locked box on the wall, screams target.” I’m wondering if they got scared off by someone in the hallway or something, because they could have easily gone through all the offices, but clearly hadn’t.

        I ran off to class, so I’m not sure if they’re changing locks or what’s going on. They only just opened up the office again a bout 45 minutes ago.

    2. Code Monkey, the SQL*

      We had a theft a while back – the thief took several corporate (read pin-locked and worthless) laptops, a monitor, and seven bags of potato chips from our honor-system snack bar. Left potato chip crumbs all over our tech guy’s office, but didn’t take the money jar. Go figure.