did my intern frame my coworker for credit card theft?

I’m off today, so here’s an older post from the archives. This was originally published in 2017.

A reader writes:

This past summer, the section I supervise had some interns working here. All of them were offered jobs here once the internships were over. However one of them has created a situation where she lied to the police, but my boss and HR have still decided to offer her a job.

A staff member really liked the intern’s jacket and would often comment saying so. When the jacket went missing, the intern went to security and the footage from the lobby and parking area showed the staff member taking the jacket to her car when most other people were in a meeting. The intern got the police involved and told them her wallet with all of her ID and credit/debit cards were in her pocket. It was found that dozens of Amazon orders were placed with the intern’s credit card in the name of the staff member, to be shipped to a pickup point near our office. Our office is opened without assigned seating so although IT could say which computer was used to place the orders there is no way of knowing who did the ordering.

The police believe it was the staff member and she has been charged for stealing and using the credit card. She admits to taking the jacket but says she doesn’t know anything about the card. She says the intern placed the orders in her name once she realized the jacket was missing as a form of revenge. The staff member is credible, she has no history of trouble working here, has no criminal record and is a good person who volunteers and is active with her church and her family. He husband has told me that her lawyer advised her to take plea to get less time in jail because a trial would not be good for her.

I am concerned about the intern having lied to the police and her now being offered a full-time job. I am not sure how to frame this when I speak to my boss. I want to discuss it with him because some of my other team members have concerns about this intern also.

I don’t know how your office could possibly sort through this better than the police and prosecutors can. You’re presumably not criminal investigators, and it sounds like there’s no obvious way to tell who placed those orders.

But I’d be very wary of assuming that the person who stole the jacket is telling you the truth about the rest of the incident. You say that she has no criminal record and is a good person who volunteers, but you also know that she stole a jacket from an intern. I think you need to consider that there’s more going on with her than you knew about.

The one fact you know for sure here is that she did indeed steal from a coworker (it’s on videotape and she admits that). Given that, you can’t give her the benefit of the doubt about the pieces of this that aren’t on video.

And note that you’re taking her word as fact. In the opening to your letter, you wrote the intern “lied to the police.” But you really don’t know that. Your only evidence for that is the word of someone who stole from a coworker and now has strong motivation to downplay any other pieces of that crime.

If you have other concerns about the intern, which it sounds like you do, you can absolutely share those with your boss. But you don’t have grounds for alleging that she placed those Amazon orders herself, and it would be wrong of you to assert that as fact. You can certainly pass along to your boss that your other coworker is claiming that’s what happened, but you should be careful to note that you’re only passing on information and that you have no way of judging the veracity of any of this. (And if nothing else, your boss should be aware that you and others in the office are looking at the intern with such suspicion. That has the potential to create a really bad situation, so your boss should know.)

All that said … it would be awfully poor judgment to use your own name when ordering on someone else’s stolen credit card! It’s like robbing a house and leaving a signed note behind. If anything here makes me wonder about the intern’s version of events, it’s this. But lots of people commit incredibly stupid crimes so that in itself isn’t evidence of anything … and again, these are all questions for the police, the prosecutor, and your coworker’s lawyer to work out. Your office can’t solve this.

{ 434 comments… read them below }

  1. Jon*

    “The staff member is credible, she has no history of trouble working here, has no criminal record and is a good person who volunteers and is active with her church and her family.”

    No trouble except, you know, stealing the intern’s jacket.

    1. A. Nonymous*

      Never ever ever let your idea of who someone is override observations of their actual behavior.

      1. Worldwalker*

        As Maya Angelou said, when someone tells you who they are, believe them the first time. Or shows you, in this case.

      1. Good Enough For Government Work*

        “some of my other team members have concerns about this intern also.”

        Given OP’s framing and tone, I would lay decent money on these ‘concerns’ being along the lines of ‘how dare the intern raise a stink about a coworker STEALING HER BELONGINGS’.

        1. birb*

          Exactly. There’s more mental friction at the thought of a trusted coworker blatantly and casually stealing things at work than there is at deciding an intern plotted revenge against an “honest” apparently well-liked coworker for stealing her coat… As though an intern who just lost their coat and wallet would risk getting caught committing fraud to “punish” the thief instead of worrying about the logistics of replacing their stuff.

          Sometimes I can’t fathom

          1. Ex-prof*

            It reminds me of the sort of mental ganging-up by faculty members against certain students that I’ve seen happening now and then. Once that starts the kid can do nothing right. Sounds like that was the case with this intern.

            I hope she got a job somewhere else. Somewhere where people don’t steal her stuff.

        2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

          “some of my other team members have concerns about this intern also.”

          Those other team members maybe belong to the same church as the OP and Jacket Thief

    2. Ray B Purchase*

      The church part is particularly noteworthy to me personally as a few years ago, a member of my in-laws’ small church, who held a leadership position with the church, was convicted of embezzling a couple million dollars from the church over the period of his employment.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        There’s a Pastor Arrested subreddit and hoo boy does it ever show that church going doesn’t mean moral.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          The most stridently Christian family in the place of worship in which I grew up also had the meanest kids, and one of them grew up to be a crypto dudebro. Don’t get me started.

        2. Van Wilder*

          This is the crux of it. I read that sentence as “I think everyone that goes to church is a good person because we’re in the same insiders group.”

        3. Random Dice*

          My childhood church, it was the leader stealing. He used the religion to get people to donate countless hours of free labor to “their” business, then ran off with millions in profit.

      2. Richard Hershberger*

        I am impressed that a small church had a couple million dollars to steal. That shows really excellent cash flow, if not financial controls. As a parishioner, I would not give any significant amount to a church that was not transparent about its finances. This includes not only the obviously greasy churches with rich pastors. The rule applies to established and respectable churches. Churches with poor financial controls may not themselves have any clear idea where the money is going.

        1. Ray B Purchase*

          It was cumulative over a period of like 20 years, and the embezzler happened to be the treasurer.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            A small church having the same treasurer for that long is understandable. It is a thankless job requiring specialized skills. That being said, part of being a well run church is that the books get audited every few years. I also wonder about what happened to the plate collection. It should be counted promptly every Sunday by two people, and not the same two people every week. If you are going to skim, cash offerings are the easiest way to do it, but not if there are good procedures in place for counting it.

            1. Ssssssssssssssssss*

              We were three for plate collection counting, one observing, one counting, one writing it all down. We double checked it, made sure it balanced and immediately stuck it in a bag for deposit and we all signed off in triplicate. My little church has an annual summary of where the money’s going which gets picked over in detail as needed by the congregation. My church never had millions, I can tell you that!

              1. Hamburke*

                I did some bookkeeping for a church at one point (not my church, but for a client – they hired us after an audit bc their books were a mess). I’d get counting sheets and envelopes monthly. trying to match anything to deposits was a nightmare! I finally convinced them to do one deposit weekly into the main operating account and then transfer it to the other special service accounts and found that it still didn’t match the counting sheets. eventually, we were too expensive for them to keep even at a discount and I didn’t keep in touch.

            2. Sharpie*

              My previous church required two people to collate the collection money into a bank bag that was tagged and put in the safe. This shoul be standard practice in any place that deals with money of any amount, whether it’s a church or a place of business. Removing the opportunity to steal as much as possible will seriously reduce the incidents of people stealing – yes, church-goers should be upright and moral but they’re also human beings and nobody’s perfect.

              1. Freya*

                And even with the best people in the world, having someone there to corroborate what happened reduces the possibility that someone will be unjustly accused of anything nefarious.

                (I am not a churchgoer myself, but I know my mother’s pastor prefers to always have one or more women in the office when he’s there counselling children or other women, not because it’s necessary, but because he wants to avoid even the slightest appearance of impropriety (especially given the history in various churches of such things; he has no interest in spending energy on defending himself that he could be spending on the people in his church))

            3. Panhandlerann*

              My church was embezzled from years ago. One of the safeguards put in place after that was that there are a treasurer responsible for outgoing money (paying bills, payroll, etc) and also a “financial secretary ” responsible for incoming money. Two different people.

      3. Wintermute*

        that stuck out to me too, obviously this is hyperbolic but more than a few serial killers were quite active in their church.

        Merely being present in a church building makes you about as honest and faithful as standing in a parking structure makes you a car.

        1. TootsNYC*

          Dennis Rader, the BTK killer, comes to mind. Was president of the church council. He used his church building to photograph the body of one of his victims. And was caught because he used a computer disk that had the name of his church in the metadata.

          1. darsynia*

            After getting reassurances anonymously from the police that this stuff wasn’t trackable! Oh, Dennis.

          2. Siege*

            There is at least one Twitter account devoted to reporting the arrests and convictions of church leaders who’ve committed CSA. I don’t even follow it and I see posts daily. It’s not a slow account.

      4. many bells down*

        When my daughter was 16 and at her first job, HR didn’t believe her 30 year old manager was texting her dick pics because “he goes to church”.

        1. CommanderBanana*

          Weird, I don’t go to church and I’ve managed to make it to middle age without ever being a serial killer, embezzling money or sending someone nudes. It’s almost like going to church doesn’t have anything to do with being a “good person.”

          I remember the original posting of this column, it was wild.

          1. Rainy*

            Yeah, the comments got pretty weird pretty fast in the original, as is often the case when “but s/he goes to *church*!” enters the chat. The people who think that way don’t want to question it.

            1. Mongrel*

              There have been a few stories from Advance-fee scams (The Nigerian prince e-mails) that, when they ask the victim, boil down to “But they said they were a good Christian”.
              For some people church is the thing that short circuits their critical thinking skills.

          2. Daisy*

            Churches are basically social groups based on us vs them tribal mentality.
            I’ll concede some of them help the larger community, but many only exist to protect “their own” on the basis of who will conform to the dominant personalities in the group.

            1. Project Maniac-ger*

              I’d argue that, at least for the OP, there’s tribal mentality of staff vs. interns. If it’s easier to believe that the intern would frame a staff member for credit card fraud as revenge for stealing a jacket that the credit cards were in rather than this person stole the jacket and used the cards, there’s an ingroup/outgroup here. Jumping to “the intern lied to the police!” When it’s pretty obviously the coworker is such a yikes. Hope the intern found a better workplace quickly.

              1. Candi*

                Definitely clique behavior.

                Someone posted about the republishing of this letter on Not Always Right. Yikes on bikes from the commentators there.

        2. Temperance*

          Some churches even have an entire organization and system related to the abuse of children, and this is widely-known, but sure, church-going men don’t harm kids. Gross.

          I hope she reported his loser ass to the police, but I understand if she didn’t because of the treatment by her supposed HR dept.

          1. Wisdom Weaver*

            I agree! ANYONE can go to ANY church, pretend to be as pious as the Pope and there’s no way to tell what they’re REALLY thinking, feeling or planning. Mind-reading only exists in sci-fi and fantasy, not IRL. But as a culture, we’ve been very gullible when it comes to believing that churchgoers are automatically virtuous folks.

            As usual, Shakespeare said it best: “My words fly up, my thoughts remain below:
            Words without thoughts never to heaven go.”

            By the way, Temperance, love your “screen name”! D0 say hello to Seeley, Angela, Jack and Cam for me!

            1. Dhaskoi*

              I have a pet theory that people who are really strident about their churchgoing are *more* likely than the average to be jerks/crooks, either because it’s camouflage for their crimes or they think that showing up at church is a payoff that excuses their bad behaviour.

              1. Irish Teacher*

                I also think people who are good don’t need to shout about it whereas those who aren’t need to prove something to themselves and others so are more likely to fixate on “well, of COURSE I’m a good person. I go to church.” Even though the two things have no correlation whatsoever.

              2. ProfessorTeapots*

                I live in a country where it’s unusual to discuss your faith in public – it’s considered a private matter. I teach at a university, and it has been fairly consistent that every student who regularly and loudly announces their participation in church is subsequently caught for plagiarism (and not just by me). The ones who just quietly live their faith are the complete opposite and are usually the most honest people I have met.

          2. Random Dice*

            In my childhood evangelical church, the people with the most interesting conversion story had a lot of social clout.

            Just think through, for a moment, the kind of messed-up dynamics it injects, when the alpha social trait starts with “I used to be such an out-of-control addict / alcoholic / etc that I did all of these terrible things: …” and that’s seen as a GOOD thing, that they are a more godly and trustworthy person. (Narrator: it did not turn out well.)

      5. NotAnotherManager!*

        This is why it always cracks me up that being a churchgoer is used as some sort of proof of moral superiority. I’ve seen just as many people do really crappy things like this, publicly announce that they have sinned but “God has forgiven me!” and then just expect everyone to go on like nothing happened and to experience no further consequences.

        Just like anything else, there are good, moral people both in and out of church communities, and there are terrible people who abuse their power both in and out of church communities.

        1. Mongrel*

          “This is why it always cracks me up that being a churchgoer is used as some sort of proof of moral superiority.”

          They should ask the restaurant servers who do the post-Church shift.

      6. Single Parent Barbie*

        When my son was in 4th grade, he had problems with a teacher. She DID not like him for some reason, and the crap she would call me about was just bizarre. Any way, he came home and told me about something she did. And I got pissed in a way only a mom can.

        I arranged a meeting with her and the principal to find out exactly what happened. I told her what my son had told me. Well she claimed it was not her, but this “Sweet boy in her class, he is a BOY scout, and he did this…” (which included man handling my son.) well that story didn’t make sense to me either. “Did the boy scout get in trouble for not keeping his hands to himself?” Well he IS a boy scout and he is the one who raises the flag in front of the school every morning and blah blah blah. “So he didn’t get in trouble?” Well as a boy scout he just wanted to do the right thing. “is touching another child who doesn’t want to be touched considered the right thing at this school?”

        I did double check with my son what happened. (My son is 20 now. He could be rebellious, but we had taken care of the lying thing a while back. If another child had touched him he would have told me. TRUST ME. And by laying it on the boy scout, the teacher was avoiding blame for doing something that was basically illegal.)

        In other words, I had no reason to not believe my son. When I told him the teacher said that the boy scout had done. He very calmly told me that was not what happened. He stood by his original complaint. And honestly, he wasn’t in trouble either way.

        My point is, my parents were visiting at the time, and I was telling them about the meeting and how the teacher just talked about this boy scout like he walked on water and parted the red seas. So obviously the child was above reproach.

        My father was retired law enforcement and when he retired taught Criminal justice at the college level. In his quiet deadpan voice said “Charles Joseph Whitman was a boy scout.”

        I am sure (i hope) the boy scout in my son’s class did not end up a killer (especially since he didn’t do what the teacher claimed he did either) , but going to church doesn’t make you sinless, being a boy scout does not make you blameless.

      7. Will Work for Chocolate*

        Let’s not forget that the BTK serial killer was a very active volunteer with his church. If someone can go to church every week and torture and kill women on the side, I’m sure there are plenty of other church-goers out there who are capable of all kinds of lesser, but still terrible, atrocities.

      8. darsynia*

        Context here is just… there’s a whole ‘church people aren’t as bad as regular people’ assumption that baffles me, and seems to be a large swathe of the ‘trust’ landscape in today’s letter. Argh.

        My youngest attended a preschool with a pair of twins whose parent was the pastor of a different campus of the same church I attended. One Sunday, we were gravely informed that this man had ‘lost his way’ and misappropriated funds, and the church was getting him help. They reassured us that his family wouldn’t suffer in any way, that he would still attend the church, but a new pastor would be needed, of course. His kids still attended the preschool (but his wife avoided me, I guess reasonably? I wouldn’t have said anything, I wouldn’t know WHAT to say), and I approved of that because they can’t pick their parents or what their parents do.

        I will say, though, that the money this man stole (he stole it.) was tithe money. It was donation money. The church was more concerned that we knew this man was getting help and his family wouldn’t be impacted than they were worried about telling us what steps would be taken to stop that from happening again?? I know there’s an inertia to liking someone, to knowing someone already, to trusting people who hold the same belief systems as you do… but the built-in forgiveness and lack of accountability is maddening.

      9. OMG, Bees!*

        I read “they were a good person: they went to church!” about horrible people so often, it holds no weight to me. Even less because it implies those of us who don’t go to church are immoral people.

      10. Why is it so hard to think of a name*

        It’s not church but I used to work for a certain non profit for girls running their baked goods fundraiser in my area. People generally expect us to be trustworthy people.
        You do not want to know how many civil suits and police reports I filed for missing cookie money over the last decade or so. As our CFO used to say, the biggest reason people embezzle is because the opportunity presents itself.

        1. Princess Sparklepony*

          I bought a small home safe one year for no real reason but I had the space and things to put in it. I felt kind of dumb for getting one since it’s not like I have jewels. The installation guy said, the safe is to keep honest people honest.

      11. Bruce*

        Not a church, but my old pool club had a treasurer that was paying her mortgage from the club account. She was caught and eventually paid it back by tapping her relatives, they wanted to keep her out of jail.

    3. Czhorat*

      I remember this letter from the first time around

      The leaps the LW made to support the long-term worker over the intern are impressive.

      1. Worldwalker*

        This is one of the ones I most wish had a follow-up, and least expect it to, since that follow-up would almost certainly include the LW admitting being wrong. But I still wish I knew what happened next and who *did* place those Amazon orders.

        1. Dek*

          I dunno, the Leap Year Birthday boss never admitted she was wrong in the follow-ups.

          I feel like I would file this in firmly Not My Problem, and just, y’know. Not steal things from the intern.

        2. Magenta Sky*

          The Amazon pickup place almost certainly had security cameras.

          And the police almost certainly knew it.

          Before they made the arrest.

          1. Candi*

            People in the comments of the original pointed that out, and that the police would not have taken just the intern’s word about the charges. That kind of nonviolent crime tends to not get an arrest until enough evidence is in, barring flight risk and the like.

        3. pen*

          If you’re dumb enough to steal a jacket visible cameras, you’re dumb enough to send the packages in your own name.

          1. Lexie*

            It just says that the packages were sent to a pick up spot nearby, I wonder if she thought she would need to show ID to get them and that’s why she used her name.

        4. Irish Teacher*

          I doubt the LW ever realised she was wrong. I suspect any proof against the coworker would be just seen as “look at how good a liar the intern is! She convinced the police and the judge and my employers!” And really, it’s unlikely the LW got any more information about the theft than she already had.

          I am concerned about the intern though and what kind of experience she had working with people who are convinced the person who stole from her is in the right.

    4. birb*

      I honestly think that sometimes people forget that interns are people and that you’re not SUPPOSED to treat them badly. I can’t imagine the letter would be anything like this if they had stolen from someone well liked and on their level. It is almost apologetic that the thief MIGHT have had to deal with an unfair consequence / damage to their reputation from being caught stealing!

      Also, you have to be signed in to an account to make an order on Amazon, but I could definitely see someone thinking they could just change the name on the delivery to something else and be in the clear and then finding out later that Amazon can still hand over the account holder name.

      1. Czhorat*

        Yes, and even if you mistreat your interns (which you shouldn’t) that’s usually overworking them, underpaying them, or giving them menial tasks. Not literally stealing their belongings.

      2. Dek*

        Yeah, that last bit seems like it would solve the mystery pretty quickly. Having someone’s credit card doesn’t give you their amazon login. Whatever account it was ordered from, seems like that would be the person who made the order.

        1. Princess Sparklepony*

          I’m guessing they opened a new Amazon account with the intern’s info so that it matched the credit card information. Then call it a gift so it’s under the worker’s name and delivered to the pick up point.

          (Not that I’ve thought about doing this…. but that would be the way that makes sense to me.)

      3. Magenta Sky*

        You can sign up for an Amazon account with any name you want. But you still have to have an email address attached to it, and you have to respond to an email to that address to confirm the account.

        However, if that email is not company owned (and it’s almost certainly not, in this case), IT would have no way of tracking it down any more than they did who placed the other beyond what PC was used.

        The police, however, can serve warrants to get all records related to that account, which may or may not lead to a home IP address. It’s a good bet they tried.

        But the pickup place almost certainly had video, and they almost certainly checked that.

      4. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        Interns are supposed to learn professional norms and some job skills; I hate to think what this poor intern has learned and will take to her next job.

        1. Jane Gloriana Villanueva*

          Sometimes/always the what NOT to do is more valuable. I hope she is growing her career by leaps and bounds and purging her workplaces of this type of crap!

      1. Rose*

        And she stole from what presumably is one of the lowest paid, lowest power positions in the company. It’s incredibly messed up.

    5. Sigh...*

      Unfortunately, this is human nature, people like tangible things for confirmation purposes –

      – a criminal record is tangible, if you don’t have one people need more convincing you did something wrong (yes, there are exceptions)

      – a person didn’t do something “bad” to you, so you need more convincing (sexual harassment is an example more people seem to understand)

      1. Rose*

        Unfortunate things like sex crimes people often do not believe the victims because there is no tangible proof of what happened, so most cases are a he said/she said by nature. It’s idiotic that people use that as some kind of evidence that nothing happened, but it does mean there’s not really proof either way.

        I disagree that it’s human nature to disbelieve or disregard something like this where there’s evidence on video tape that it happened, and the person admits to it. Sure, some people are stubborn or stupid or naïve enough to continue to refer to someone who stole from a coworker as a moral person who has never had any issues at work. But it’s far from the norm. thank goodness.

      2. Lexie*

        I used to deal with background checks at a former employer and quite simply all a clean background check means is you were never convicted. I had to conduct some in house investigation and one person really thought that their clean record should be all the evidence that was needed to clear them.

    6. Ex-prof*

      She steals people’s clothes but at least she goes to church regularly.

      My guess is that the coworker confessed to the jacket theft because it’s petty larceny and is unlikely to even be charged as long as the intern got her jacket back, whereas credit card fraud is a whole nother can of beans.

      The fact that the sticky-fingered staff member was stupid enough to steal a jacket she’d openly praised repeatedly suggests she would also be stupid enough to use someone else’s credit card to order things sent to herself.

      1. Dek*

        I mean, she probably only confessed because there was video evidence.

        But like, just…who DOES that?

        1. Ex-prof*

          Nobody. Or at least nobody except that one kid in the 3rd grade that everyone knows is Troubled.

    7. Rose*

      Lol, thank you, this statement is hilariously off base. I esp like the part where if she sits in a specific building once a week, she learnt can’t be a thief, even though she already admitted to being a thief and plenty of murderers, child abusers, and other handouts violent criminals are members of church’s.

      But, ya know… church!

    8. EC*

      Exactly, this person is an admitted thief, so anything they say should be suspect. I can’t believe this was the first incident either.

      1. Princess Sparklepony*

        Makes you wonder about if other things have gone missing. Or does she just pick on interns because they tend to be temporary?

    9. WheresMyPen*

      There’s a bit of a difference between stealing a jacket and committing credit card fraud though

      1. epizeugma*

        Eh, people can rationalize all kinds of bad behavior. “I’ll use this credit card to order some stuff from Amazon, Intern can just get the credit card company to cancel the charges as ‘fraud’ so really no individual person will be harmed.”

  2. birdbird*

    I mean if anything is a stupid crime it’s stealing someone’s jacket in a place that obviously has CCTV, so wouldn’t underestimate ability to commit the adjacent stupid crime of more stealing using a credit card **from the jacket they stole on tape**.

    1. Waiting on the bus*

      That’s what I thought as well when reading Alison’s last paragraph. A stupid crime was already committed before any Amazon orders were placed!

    2. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      Also, placing the Amazon orders at work (whether to use a stolen credit card or to frame someone else) doesn’t strike me as terribly bright, either. Even if the work desks are not assigned, presumably people have to log into the computers, and I would think that should also be trackable by IT.

      It might not be accurate (someone could’ve left the computer logged in but unlocked, or the orderer might know someone else’s login and used that), but it would at least be something. (The fact that they weren’t able to do this makes me wonder about the company’s information security, honestly.)

      1. Worldwalker*

        It could be that IT knows things they only told the police. That’s one of the reasons I really, really wish we had a follow-up on this one.

      2. Magenta Sky*

        There are many ways IT could end up being to identify only the computer used to place the orders, but not the person.

        Ordering from home, however, will 100% lead back to the IP address of the person ordering. Maybe there’s other people living there, sure, but there’s only one how works at the crime scene.

      3. TrixM*

        It’s shocking how many people still blithely share account details among a team, or small businesses that don’t bother with individual logons. Also, I don’t think it’s likely here, but sometimes computers are logged on with “generic” accounts so they can do limited functions, like the public catalogue computers at a library.

    3. Observer*

      so wouldn’t underestimate ability to commit the adjacent stupid crime of more stealing using a credit card **from the jacket they stole on tape**.

      Exactly. Sure, stupid to use their own name. But the CW is an idiot. And she ALSO knows that at least one person will believe her rather than the evidence. I guess she thought others would swallow her line as well.

      It’s the old “who are you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes?” line.

    4. Insert Clever Name Here*

      One of my friends noticed several ordered items she wasn’t familiar with when checking the status of an Amazon order, so she checked those orders. Sure enough, someone had gotten access to her account and not only was that person sending it to their home address, they also used their actual name and phone number. This is definitely a thing that happens.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        My story, though not involving Amazon – a close family member’s house was broken into while it was vacant due to family member being in the hospital. Everything of value was taken. We filed a police report, but didn’t have much hope. However they ended up finding almost everything, because a guy (or one of the guys) who’d broken in, had taken, among other things, a checkbook, and proceeded to write and cash checks. Repeatedly. To the tune of almost $20K. Because suddenly withdrawing almost your entire account’s worth of cash is a totally normal thing that everybody does /s. Bank notified the police, police tracked the guy down and found (almost) everything that was taken. Would have never found him otherwise. He literally told on himself. Never underestimate the stupidity, etc etc.

        1. SarahKay*

          As another example of “Never underestimate the stupidity”:
          Years ago I was working in a biggish department store. Two members of staff, on their last day working for the store, issued fake refunds to themselves for about £200.
          It was spotted the following day and the police were called.
          Apparently the first response from both of them was “You can’t do anything to us, we don’t work there any more”!!!
          They were both in their early twenties at most, but even so, you’d think they might work out that theft is theft regardless of whether you’re still employed by the person you stole from.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            This was a brilliant aspect of Justified: That if you were smart enough to commit clever crimes, then you could find ways to make money inside the law. At worst, steal big and go to country-club prison.

            Then there was Dewey Crowe.

            1. Damn it, Hardison!*

              There were times I almost felt sorry for poor Dewey Crowe, but he was just so, so dumb.

              1. MCL*

                That organ theft storyline starring Dewey Crowe was simultaneously the most pathetic and hilarious bit of TV I’ve seen in a while.

            2. Magenta Sky*

              The smartest people with a criminal sort of personality become lawyers and politicians. Best way to avoid breaking the law is to be the ones who write it.

              1. Princess Sparklepony*

                And yet even they get tripped up as well. It’s amazing how sloppy people get when they have been at it for a while. Those trust accounts with client money just sitting in them seems to be a huge temptation.

        2. Kacihall*

          I worked at a bank and had someone try to cash a large, obviously fraudulent check through the drive thru first thing in my second week at the bank. I called the fraud department of the bank because I didn’t know the process. They had me call the police and try to stall the guy. I just had my teller say that we were still opening and it would be a few minutes. The guy waited for probably 15 minutes all together and was surprised when the cops blocked him on the drive through.

        3. Rose*

          Wow, I’m so sorry that happened to your family member and also so greatful that man was such a dunce. People are… interesting.

      2. jellied brains*

        Someone got my credit card # (don’t order Chinese food online I guess) & immediately spent $300 on Facebook Marketplace. Yanno, the site is all about your real identity.

        I don’t know what happened but I’m pretty sure they figured out who did it

      3. Princess Sparklepony*

        Every two years or so my ex would get someone using his credit card. My favorite was the thief who sent flowers to his mother. That was kind of sweet, but still a theft.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          This reminds me of the situation I came across once where a jewellers was broken into and word among the kids I was working with at the time were that these two kids they knew had done it. One of the kids’ mothers later called in showing off the lovely jewellery her son had given her for her birthday. The kid was 14 and she seemed to see nothing odd about him being able to afford expensive jewellery to gift her just after a jewellers was broken into in the locality.

          Which I guess backs up that people can be extremely dense when it comes to suspecting those they are close to of theft. Given how widely she was showing the jewellery around, my feeling is that it didn’t even occur to her it was stolen. Though who knows!?

    5. birb*

      AND stealing a jacket after fawning over it publicly several times. It honestly sounds like the thief was bold because they get away with this stuff all the time and they know they can fall back on the benefit of the doubt.

      The police aren’t stupid enough to think that just because someone put someone else’s name on a delivery that they’re the one who ordered it. And she’s making a plea even though she’s innocent because a trial “wouldn’t be good” for her? What‽

      1. AngryOctopus*

        I mean, I’m sure it wouldn’t be “good” for her because it would easily come out that she’s a filthy liar who stole the intern’s jacket and then went for a crime of opportunity with the credit cards.

        1. Magenta Sky*

          It’s also *far* more likely to show up on an internet search at her next job application. Whether she’s convicted or not.

        2. Clare*

          I really wonder whether it was a crime of opportunity though? If her actual aim was to get the cards and the money but she wasn’t sure if she’d get caught, she might have purposefully dropped comments about the jacket. Then she could pretend that the jacket was her true goal and not the wallet. ‘Poor supid woman brought undone by her love of fashion’ plays more sympathetically in court than ‘wallet thief’.

      2. Worldwalker*

        I’m guessing that “wouldn’t be good” would be in the sense that not only would the prosecution be able to prove everything we know about, but also a lot of things we don’t know about.

        Remember we’re only getting a very one-sided view of this situation, from someone who is assuming that the victim (who has no record of untruthfulness) is the one lying and the thief (who undoubtedly said “I didn’t steal it” before they checked the cameras) is telling the truth. Which is a totally bizarre way of looking at it.

      3. Stoney Lonesome*

        I wouldn’t put too much stock in the plea deal thing. It is incredibly common for prosecutors to talk innocent people into plea deals. Trials can take a long time. You have to pay a lawyer for that whole time or you get an already overworked public defender who also has an incentive to get you to plea.

        Imagine a prosecutor says to you, “If you plead guilty, we can wrap this up pretty quickly. You’ll have to go to jail, but it’ll only be 30 days, then you can get back to your life. You can always petition to get your record expunged later. On the other had, if you don’t plead guilty, this might drag on for months. There will be pre-trial motions, jury selection, the trail itself. You’ll have to pay thousands in legal fees and you don’t even have a job anymore. And after all of that, we’ll ask for the maximum sentence. You could spend years in jail. Is that really what you want?”

        Even if you knew you were completely innocent, would you be so quick to say no to the plea deal? Plenty of rational people take the deal, even if they are innocent

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          Yeah, I commented similarly below. I think it’s far, far more likely that the coworker did it than that the intern set her up (that just seems so, so unlikely), but just as a matter of general practice I encourage people to stop thinking that taking a plea deal = guilt. In this particular case, as you point out, going to trial could mean this case holding over your head for a long time and the prosecutor punishing her for taking that option by proceeding on the greatest charges they can find to throw at her for this.

        2. Daria grace*

          I am so baffled by the assumptions here. If I had my wallet stolen, I’d be panicking about cancelling my cards. It wouldn’t ever occur to me to make fake Amazon orders to frame the suspect

          1. Candi*

            That was mentioned in the original comments -that you’re busy canceling All The Things, looking into how to replace a DL or State ID, and replace the SSN card if you carry it with you (don’t do that unless you need to).

            Plus, Amazon records your freakin transactions and what was used to pay for them! The police can subpoena that.

          2. Lizbeth*

            I think the allegation the LW is making here is that the wallet/cards were actually not in the jacket at the time of the theft? So there’d be nothing to cancel or panic about, just a cold blood frame job.

        3. Glen*

          my understanding is that, as far as we can tell, innocent people are more likely to accept a plea deal than guilty people. They are an absolute travesty and miscarriage of justice.

        4. Irish Teacher*

          Yeah, it’s not the plea deal that makes me think the intern is almost certainly telling the truth but the fact that it is incredibly unlikely that somebody would steal a jacket and then the victim would realise who stole it and decide that their being fired for theft isn’t good enough; they want them in jail and then think up a plan immediately to get them framed for credit card theft.

          I mean, I suppose it’s possible, but barely so and for the LW to assume that rather than that the thief is lying about the more serious theft but can’t deny the more minor one isn’t really reasonable.

          If there was no theft of the jacket and it was simply that the intern had claimed the coworker had used their credit card, then I would be less inclined to come down on a side even if the accused person pled guilty. However, even in that case, I would be doubtful about a story that began with the assumption the intern was lying. It would still be the less likely option simply because it is more common for people to steal than it is for somebody to order something on their own credit card using somebody else’s name in order to frame them for credit card theft.

    6. NotAnotherManager!*

      After professing multiple times to have really, really liked the jacket. Even if she didn’t take it, that’s going to be your first suspect.

    7. badger*

      yeah, my BFF is a criminal defense attorney and she occasionally has to sit down with her clients and talk about the wisdom of posting a photo of your entire shoplifting haul on Facebook.

      1. GreyjoyGardens*

        I have a good friend who is a retired DA and she firmly believes most criminals are stupid. Otherwise they either would be smart enough to not get caught, or smart enough to survive by legal employment (or government disability). Crime really isn’t that lucrative, the Oceans series notwithstanding, and most crimes are stupid (tearing up cushions on buses, etc.).

    8. Ellis Bell*

      You know what else is really stupid? Telling everyone how much you like the jacket you’re going to steal.

  3. Bread Crimes*

    I remember this one from the first time around, and my goodness, I am still boggled by the LW. Unless there’s an awful lot of missing context–the intern was constantly lying about other people? this person who stole the jacket was attempting to get home through a blizzard to save a dying family member and could not otherwise have possibly done so?–I just can’t imagine how someone can look at this series of events and assume the intern has decided to frame the person who stole from them for a second larger crime.

    1. Code Monkey, the SQL*

      Yes, this is such a weird take – “Well yes, she did steal from an intern, but she’s so nice and good when she isn’t doing that! I’ll bet the intern set her up for theft charges in retaliation for the theft she actually did commit.”

      I’m fully on Team Intern here, if only because I’ve had my wallet stolen from me at work (by a customer) and charges run up before I even noticed the cards were gone. I lost $400 from my debit card between when it was taken and when I got the fraud call on my lunch break.

      1. Typing All The Time*

        It’s awful. At an old job, the receptionist’s wallet was taken from her desk. It was thought that a delivery person took it and I remember seeing her having to make calls to her bank and credit card company throughout the day.

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          I once had my purse stolen from my office and didn’t realize it until the end of the day when I needed my car keys to get home. This was well before the era of cameras everywhere. Security asked me when it disappeared. I gave them a ten-hour window from my arrival to the moment I went to leave (medical practice, very long days). The security guard then proceeded to ridicule me for not knowing EXACTLY when the thing disappeared and for bringing a purse to work at all. He didn’t stop when I started to cry. My boss finally shut him down.

          1. CommanderBanana*

            I worked in an office that had badge readers in the elevator and on the doors, and we STILL had someone get in and take some employees’ purses out of their offices! I’m still convinced someone who worked there let him in (whether or not they knew this person was going to steal stuff).

            1. Ssssssssssssssssss*

              Piggybacking. Used to get warnings to not allow piggybacking when badging into the building.

              Years ago, I let someone in by holding open the door. He was well dressed and slick as hell and we had guests and so many new staffers from different offices, I assumed he was legit. He was quick, stole only a few items and then he was let out by someone else holding the door. She thought he was cute, too, since he smiled at her when he left. He never said a word. He was a real pro.

              1. CommanderBanana*

                It was weird because my organization had the entire floor, and we very rarely had anyone outside our organization on that floor, and we were small enough that you should theoretically have known who all your coworkers were, at least by sight. Having someone in that office space we didn’t know would have been the exception. And, the purse-stealer was a guy, and it was nearly all women on that floor at the time. I think we had maybe 3 guys out of the 25ish people on that floor??

      2. HonorBox*

        I’m mostly on Team Intern as well. Maybe the intern did place the orders… because it does seem fishy that the orders were placed in the name of the full-time employee. We really don’t have any way of knowing. But it would be REALLY, REALLY bad judgement to both frame the coworker and lie to the police.

        1. i need a name*

          I don’t necessarily find that fishy since I’ve seen people be reeeeeeeal dim when it comes to this kinda thing. I work in a call center that once had a rep who copied down callers’ credit card numbers and billing information, then proceeded to use the cards to order pizza to his house and pay his electric bill.

        2. Candi*

          Most criminals are not that bright. It’s like they think that once they steal the checks or credit cards, the victim loses all contact with it. Which wasn’t true in pre-net days, let alone now.

          There was a(nother) guy who stole a credit card and used it to pay his electric bill. The police can subpoena the address info.

          One guy used a stolen credit card to buy very expensive advance tickets for an event several weeks away. Got busted when they showed up at the ticket booth to pick them up. The police were waiting.

          People post-boast on Facebook about crimes they’ve done. The police can subpoena that info too.

    2. DeeDee*

      I think I get it. When we’ve known people for a long time, we paint a picture in our head of who they are. Going by the letter I suspect LW also socialized with co-worker outside of work and maybe went to the same church. When someone who in your mind is kind, and good, and honest, does something that is so completely opposite of how you see them, it can be really hard to accept that you didn’t actually know them at all, and it’s tempting to excuse the provable behaviour as an exception, a one time failure on their part.
      I do hope after that letter LW sat down and did some real thinking about the possibility she did not really know her co-worker as well as she thought.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        This situation is a variation of “setting yourself on fire to keep someone else warm”
        OP is setting him/herself on fire to create a bonfire to burn the intern at the stake.
        The police have a case.
        The lawyer recommends a plea.
        But the intern is lying.
        Funny, we never got an update about this one.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Oh I was going to ask if there was ever an update! I guess no update tells us everything we need to know, huh.

          I remember reading it when it was first posted and being absolutely mind-boggled at the logic of “sure, she stole a jacket on camera, but SHE IS ACTIVE IN HER CHURCH!”

          1. Sleeve McQueen*

            I’m citing from the respected peer-reviewed journal The Annals of Sort of Remembering Things I Read Once, but I did see a study once that found being ACTIVE IN THE CHURCH can actually make you less likely to do good deeds. The logic is that because you are the type of person who goes to church, you are clearly a good person so it doesn’t technically count when you do things a good person wouldn’t do, because you are demonstrably a good person.
            Note: I am not saying all people in churches are dishonest, it’s just one of the many ways we as humans rationalise behaviour. Just like when you trip over its because you are a clumsy oaf, but when I trip over its because the ground is uneven

            1. Princess Sparklepony*

              This is an internet winner!

              the respected peer-reviewed journal The Annals of Sort of Remembering Things I Read Once…

              That is gold, Jerry, GOLD!

        2. Worldwalker*

          I’m pretty sure the update would have to include the words “I was wrong.” And those are the hardest words for some people to type. As much as I want one, I don’t hold out much hope for seeing an update here. :(

        3. JB (not in Houston)*

          Not trying to nitpick because I generally agree with your comment, but I feel compelled to point out that the fact that the lawyer recommended a plea doesn’t mean anything. Defense lawyers will routinely recommend taking a plea deal regardless of whether the client is guilty on the belief that doing so will result in the best outcome for the client.

          We don’t know how strong of a case the police gathered, but it was enough that the DA was willing to proceed on it (although that also doesn’t necessarily mean much), but the OP knows the coworker took the jacket. She took the jacket when there are cameras! The OP is doing some real mental gymnastics here.

          1. Astor*

            Yes, this. I’m not saying that I think the coworker is innocent, because it certainly makes more sense for someone who stole a jacket on camera to have also used the credit cards than for the intern to also have been stupid enough to risk trying to frame them. However, “they must have done it if there’s enough evidence to charge them” and “nobody pleads guilty unless they are” are both provably wrong to a frustrating degree.

            1. Candi*

              More accurate is “the DA’s office thinks there’s enough evidence to win a conviction”. Though even that isn’t 100% and some DAs need their privilege and biases checked.

    1. Myrin*

      Nope. OP didn’t really meet with a sympathetic answer or comments (although I think Alison managed to remain admiringly professional and down-to-earth) and I doubt she’d write in again to admit to having been wrong (which I reckon is basically the only possible outcome here). It’s one of the cases where I would’ve loved to hear from a coworker at the place, though, just to get an outsider’s perspective on everything.

      1. Rose*

        I think another very likely outcome is that the coworker took some kind of plea deal, and still insisted she was innocent, and LW still thinks she was right, and we all just don’t understand how honest and churchgoing her coworker was.

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          Yep. And justifying it as a “one-time lapse” without stopping to consider being that brazen about stealing something is often indicative of someone who feels frequently quite comfortable taking things that aren’t theirs.

      2. Irish Teacher.*

        I’d also have my doubts the LW ever got a final answer (or rather ever accepted a final answer). Even if the coworker was found guilty in court, she would probably think, “see how convincingly the intern lied!”

  4. Myrin*

    Aaah, a classic.
    I’ll never forgot that in the original comment section, Alison herself posted a comment like “also I need to see a picture of this enticing jacket” which I second very much. What is this special item that makes people into beasts of jealousy and thievery?

    1. MigraineMonth*

      The power of that jacket to turn moral, upright and dependable church-going coworkers bad!

    2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      I’ve got a custom made corset backed Edwardian style jacket. In cranberry red raw velvet with black satin trimmings. And hand embroidered detailing. Fancy it? :)

      1. ferrina*

        Yes! That sounds AMAZING!!!!

        I would become an international cat burglar for a jacket like that.

      2. Worldwalker*

        OMG! I’m putting together a steampunk costume for Halloween and that sounds perfect!

        All joking aside, if there’s some way you could show us pictures of that I’d love to see it.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          I can’t show photos of it (because it’s a real one off job) but the firm who did it for me is called The Dark Angel clothing company in the UK. They’re currently closed due to illness though.

    3. Coverage Associate*

      I couldn’t resist a jacket at the department store yesterday, even though I already bought 2 jackets this weekend and we are still in summer weather. It even needs to be dry cleaned. But the fake fur was just so soft.

      It cost $30, which of course I paid.

  5. ENFP in Texas*

    “The staff member is credible, she has no history of trouble working here, has no criminal record and is a good person who volunteers and is active with her church and her family”

    …well, ya know, except for that little theft incident. I guess she missed the whole “Thou shalt not covet” and “Thou shalt not steal” part at church.

    It blows my mind that the person WHO IS ON TAPE STEALING is the one who gets the benefit of the doubt here by the LW. Seriously?

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        I didn’t understand what you meant at first.
        Clearly, OP does not like the intern and likes the coworker because…
        OH! I understand now.
        Because this visceral reaction is about two coworkers, not OP at all.
        Why is OP so invested in coworker being a victim/not being a thief?
        Why is OP so invested in intern being a liar, a criminal, and let’s face it, a vindictive predator.
        The church comment jumped out, but I wonder if there is more.

        1. A. Nonymous*

          As an example:

          the intern was a WOC, and both OP/CW are white women

          the intern was conservative, and both OP/CW are liberals

          intern was not religious, OP/CW belong to the same church

          Basically “this person isn’t on My Team, so I don’t believe them”

          1. Turquoisecow*

            I would guess it’s more that OP and the thief have worked together for years and maybe socialized outside of work so they’re the “in” crowd, while the intern is the New Person who has yet to ingratiate themselves into the workplace cliques. Especially if they’re much younger, sometimes people are threatened by “uppity youngsters.” Complete fanfic of course but sometimes young new people are seen as a threat if they’re smart and not subservient enough to the older and established members of a group. And if the thief openly coveted the intern’s jacket, maybe they and others viewed that as a status symbol that the new young person should not have earned yet, especially if it was expensive.

            1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

              “And if the thief openly coveted the intern’s jacket, maybe they and others viewed that as a status symbol…”
              building on your narrative, OP may have thought that intern should have OFFERED the jacket.
              “A bribe?”
              “Of course not. It’s just the polite thing to do. Interns are guests here and you’d think she would want to make a good impression. No, she doesn’t have to give it to coworker, but …”

            2. whingedrinking*

              Yeah, there are people who I can see justifying it to themselves by saying that taking an intern’s stuff isn’t *that* bad – at worst, a minor abuse of power like getting them to go pick up your dry-cleaning, but more likely just kind of rude, like grabbing a pen from their desk without asking. I mean, sure, treating the interns like that isn’t *nice*, but it’s hardly criminal, right? It’s really only a step past, “Oh, Jane’s not here, I’ll just try on her jacket real quick”, right?

          2. Worldwalker*

            Or the intern is the “wrong” religion — which in the case of some churches (a relative belongs to one) can mean anyone who is not a member of their specific sub-sub-sect. But it could be as simple as the LW/CW being Baptist and the intern being Lutheran; even worse if she’s of a non-Christian, non-Abrahamic, or uncommon religion.

            If it’s politics, it’s likely office politics. Instead of liberals ganging up on a conservative (or conservatives ganging up on a liberal) it’s established ganging up on a newbie. It’s a high school clique moved to an adult office.

            It could be a difference of socioeconomic status, too. “How dare this intern actually have a nice jacket that we can’t afford?” Probably the same way she can afford an unpaid/low-paid internship with the company: she comes from a more affluent background. So the LW/CW resent that.

            So there’s a plethora of reasons, but in the end, they don’t matter. What matters is that there is no evidence that the intern is lying, and the thief, unless she admitted to stealing the jacket the first time anyone asked, is a proven liar as well as a thief.

            1. Candi*

              If the intern has parents/relatives in a higher income bracket, that would definitely get some people upset. How dare this young person have someone who can provide them with nice things we can’t afford.

              It’s ridiculous, but some people choose to have very small, jealous mentalities instead of broadening their world view.

        2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

          Why is OP so invested?
          To some people, membership of the one-and-only True Church overrides everything. Nothing else matters.
          You are either a True Believer or you are damned to burn in hell for eternity (as a preacher thundered out in his sermon on the 1st & last occasion I accompanied my late mum to her new church)

          I once was baffled by an obvious lie my very religious cousin was insisting was true. Mum explained that the cousin didn’t consider that a real lie because otherwise someone in her church would be in the wrong.

    1. Irish Teacher.*

      I’m guessing the coworker is a friend or at least that the LW and the coworker got on well and the LW doesn’t want to believe a person she likes would steal from somebody less well-paid than she is. She can’t ignore the stealing of the jacket but has still convinced herself that she is surely telling the truth about the money.

      I get it. None of us want to believe we were wrong about a person or to believe that somebody we liked would do something really mean (and it is mean to steal from an intern).

      1. Annony*

        The LW is deep in denial. There is no question of whether the staff member is the type of person who would steal from an intern. She absolutely is. There is video proof. The only question is how much she would steal. Based only on what is in the letter, I would believe the intern over the staff member. Once someone crosses a line you never thought they were capable of crossing, you can’t really judge what they would and would not do anymore because clearly you don’t know them as well as you thought.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        I find it really interesting that the OP actually thought they could do a better job on this because the police don’t KNOW her coworker like she does. Which is actually the point. They would be objective and go off evidence, whereas OP was just going off a bunch of public unrelated actions as proof of character.

    2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      That reminds me of the first round of comments.
      Something like, What would justify being fired at that company, because it’s not stealing from your coworkers.

      1. Worldwalker*

        Well, obviously, it’s just an intern, it’s not like she was a *real* co-worker.


    3. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

      I’ve seen this mind-set a billion times with certain members of my family. “It’s okay when WE do it!”

    4. CommanderBanana*

      I also bet you anything that she has/does steal elsewhere and has just avoided much in the way of consequences. I worked for a small business and the new bookkeeper stole money. We found out she’d stolen from at least 2 other workplaces and had been fired for it but had managed to avoid any actual consequences or having a record because neither place wanted to deal with an embezzlement trial and/or admit they were sloppy enough to get stolen from.

      1. Worldwalker*

        I’ve heard that a lot of companies want to hush this sort of thing up because they’re worried about the damage to their public image. Sounds like that’s what happened.

  6. LB33*

    Were there any other unsolved crimes in your area? Who knows what havoc the intern has been wreaking all these years

      1. Myrin*

        I reckon LB33 was being tongue-in-cheek since with the level of mental gymnastics going on in the letter, the intern might as well be responsible for anything bad at all happening in this town.

    1. Raisin Walking to the Moon*

      I’m sure we’ve got some unsolved crime in MY small town that the intern committed!

  7. windsofwinter*

    I was just thinking about this letter. I wish we could have had an update, but the LW was just determined to paint this intern in an evil light.

    1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      I want an update, but I want it from the intern. (Who has hopefully gone on to much better things.)

      1. Oryx*

        Could you imagine being the intern in 2017 and probably not reading AAM and then flash forward several years to being a working professional and come across this letter as a regular AAM reader?

  8. bamcheeks*

    I know this is minor in the scheme of things, but “IT could tell which computer was used but not who was logged in at the time” is WILD. Am I just big-bureaucracy-pilled or is that an absolutely bananapants way to run your computer network?

      1. birb*

        Or… that’s just another weird lie to sow doubt from the jacket-thief. It’s not uncommon for people in these situations to say something can’t be done when really they just know it can’t or won’t be available to the public. Are they not able to see who was signed in, or are they not able to comment on an ongoing investigation?

        She likely knew at that point she was going to lose and was just doing damage control by stirring up as much doubt as possible.
        YES it was me on the camera who stole the jacket… but you know I’m not the kind of person to steal money or anything big!
        YES it was my name on the packages… but they weren’t delivered to my house!
        YES it was my computer that was used… but IT can’t say who was even signed in at the time!

        1. Worldwalker*

          IT knows. Access logs are a default part of every network in existence. IT knows, but they told the cops, not the LW.

          1. birb*

            People do this with schools and doctors all the time because there are laws protecting private information

            Just like the teacher who was shot by the 6 year old. The parents are clearly lying to the press to sway opinion, because the school CANNOT comment publicly without violating FERPA laws!

          2. TrixM*

            Not necessarily, in a small business. Or places where team members share passwords or will say to the intern, “oh, you don’t need your own account, one of us will log on for you.”

            Bad practice, yes. Not uncommon, even today, yes.

    1. CL*

      That jumped out at me too, but I’m no longer surprised by the lack of security controls some companies have for IT. They have security cameras but no idea who logged into the computer.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Not best practice, no. But there’s a lot of firms where sharing log ins or generic passwords is common behaviour. Usually you find an IT professional banging their head against the wall after finding the 18th iteration of ‘oh we all use Suzie’s account’ that week.

      And then told they can’t have the budget or authority to change the behaviour. There’s a reason I don’t work for small firms anymore.

        1. Long Lost Source Code*

          We are an otherwise competent IT company, and yet we have one super-old internal tool where the login is shared, and is in the name of long-departed employee. We can’t change it because the username and password are hard-coded into the source code, and we lost the source code.

          1. Long Lost Source Code*

            By long departed, I mean more than 10 years ago. I don’t know how long ago we lost the source code. Who knows, maybe the only copy was on that guy’s laptop. (That’s also something that’s happened to me at a different company. Luckily they still had the laptop.)

            1. Candi*

              Question: would trying to copy the code out of a duplicate of the tool break something important?

              1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

                In my experience it’s not that simple, especially when you’re dealing with compiled languages. Unlike something like HTML where you can just ‘see’ the code on the website, often applications are coded then compiled into an executable. You never see the code running.

                BioWare had this issue with the remastered Mass Effect – they had the source code for the originals ALL except a specific DLC where the source was corrupted beyond repair. So they couldn’t remaster it, even hough you can still purchase the original DLC and run it on your computer.

          2. allathian*

            My employer, way back when many websites were still coded manually with an html editor although the first website building tools had been published by then, had an issue with the webmaster who refused to document any of his code. When his manager tried to make him do so, he basically nuked the whole site and the most recent backups. He also broke his employment contract by quitting with no notice. I’m not sure if he was ever sued for breach of contract and malicious sabotage.

            After that, my then-employer decided to implement a website building platform and security measures to ensure that future webmasters wouldn’t be able to delete any backup files.

      1. Turquoisecow*

        My company did something similar, not with computer logins but with access to a particular 3rd party software. I was told to use another coworker’s login and assumed it was because they didn’t want to pay for multiple accounts. I’ve definitely run into that in other places as well where it was easier to use the boss’s account than set up a new one. But we did still have our own logins to the computers and email accounts.

      2. TrixM*

        Co-signed, down to no small companies, thank you. And, related, I will not be the sole administrator of any environment. If any legal crap hits the fan, I do not want to be the sole person in the firing line.

    3. Ashley*

      I agree! Any place with actual IT should be able to track that stuff. Smaller companies I understand from first hand experience the crazy amount of password sharing that happens and no one seems to care until something like this happens.

    4. Serious Silly Putty*

      Our little org depends on IT from a bigger fiscal sponsor. They hate generic logins for exactly this reason, but even they concede that there are some computers hooked up to projectors where it would be horribly detrimental to set everyone up with unique logins and let us use some generic ones.

      Anyway I can totally imagine a company with less robust IT keeping thing “simple” by having generic logins. It’s not good, but I get it.

      1. Observer*

        but even they concede that there are some computers hooked up to projectors where it would be horribly detrimental to set everyone up with unique logins and let us use some generic ones.

        But those generic passwords should be locked down, so that they can’t access anything but the projectors, etc.

        It’s not good, but I get it.

        I don’t. And cost has always played a huge role in the security we can have. But there has to be a limit – my argument often was “Are you telling me you’re not going to pay the rent? This is not different”

    5. A Simple Narwhal*

      That seems pretty nuts to me too. I’ve worked for places that probably couldn’t tell you who was logged into a specific computer, but those were very small companies. A place big enough to have an established intern program and open offices where you can choose any desk to work from each day should absolutely have the capability of telling who was logged into what device.

    6. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      No, this is bananapants. This is such a huge information security risk, and it’s a completely obvious sort of risk as well. And it was just as obvious when this letter was first written as it is now. (Heck, it was obvious a decade before this letter was written.)

      So either IT really can’t track this for whatever reason (no tracking set up, shared logins, no logins), in which case we have an institutional information security problem, or IT can tell which login was used but doesn’t believe that can really tell them who was logged in, in which case we’ve either got at least 2 employees who are infosec risks for sharing login credentials, or we’re back to an institutional problem because they’re allowing people to share login credentials.

    7. Observer*

      Am I just big-bureaucracy-pilled or is that an absolutely bananapants way to run your computer network?

      Definitely banana pants.

      But also depressingly common. Even now, 5 years later.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        You are so right. Is it bananas? Yes. Have I seen it happen often? Also yes.

        Doesn’t matter how many rules there are, there will always be a strong pushback from the ‘we’ve always done it this way and it’s easier/cheaper’ crowd. The sole difference I’ve spotted is how much authority IT have to enforce the rules. No authority equals massive security holes that we cannot fix.

        Networks would be a lot easier to secure if we didn’t have end users.

        1. Turquoisecow*

          Reminding me of my company which finally started to invest in IT security after a malware attack took down everything. But even then we have unique network logins.

    8. Merci Dee*

      As happens at most companies, we have to log in with our credentials any time we turn on our computers, and any time we’re waking the computer up after the screen saver has come on, etc. So I’m not sure what’s going on with LW’s company. Are all the computers on all of the time, and nobody has to log in to the operating system or any other specialized programs? Are people sharing credentials left and right so that there’s no way to accurately track who did what work at any given time? This is just unbelievable.

    9. Anon Again... Naturally*

      Oh, I absolutely agree! Surely the orders have a time stamp, so if you know which computer was used, you could match up the time the orders were placed with the person sitting at that computer at the time?

      1. Worldwalker*

        What’s confusing about this is the matter of the Amazon account.

        Yes, the orders have a timestamp — it’s right there on your receipt. But if the orders were made on the intern’s Amazon account, how did the thief get access to it? And they probably wouldn’t have needed the credit card, since mostly people save them with Amazon for faster ordering. Someone who leaves a wallet in a jacket pocket instead of keeping it on their person is probably not paranoid enough to not save the numbers with Amazon. So how did they get the account credentials?

        But if they weren’t made on intern’s account, and it’s likely not, that means they either ordered from their own account and billed it to the intern’s credit card, or they set up a completely new account for the purpose. Which of those it was speaks to the thief’s credibility. There’s some room for doubt if it was a totally new account (although finding out who has access to the email address used for setup would probably nail that one pretty solidly) but none at all if it was the thief’s account with just the intern’s CC.

        There is *so* much that the LW doesn’t tell us — probably doesn’t even know, actually — that would go a long way to sorting out what really happened. I’m pretty sure the IT department and the police know all of these things, of course, which is why it’s “better” for the thief not to go to trial.

        1. bamcheeks*

          Bear in mind this was from 2017– whilst being logged in and having your card saved in your account is the norm now, it wasn’t as ubiquitous in 2017.

        2. Itsa Me, Mario*

          My read was that the intern noticed these transactions hitting her credit card, not that the purchases were made using her Amazon account.

    10. Peon*

      I know, but this was suuuuuuper common at my first job, circa late 90’s early 00’s. Management had individual logins and email accounts, but the rest of us shared one account per location. That went out the window when someone started using the generic accounts to unionize. Go figure.

      1. Worldwalker*

        I once did a consulting job for a company where the computers all had startup batch files to log into the Netware system (mostly in DOS; this was in the early 90s) in the names of people who hadn’t been with the company for years. So something logged as as done by “Joe Schmoe” was just whoever happened to be using the computer on the back corner desk, with no connection to any specific user.

        And that was one of the least of their weird network problems.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          Similar experience. I was told at an old job to just use “user 3” for all my commits. I didn’t like it, but as a short-timer I decided this wasn’t my hill to die on.

          I found out near the end of my time there from the also-departing Sr. Admin that 3 was a passwordless dummy account set up in the CEO’s name by a disgruntled programmer to teach a lesson about cultural issues that would need to be fixed after he left.

          Also similarly, that didn’t even scrape the surface of the weirdness.

    11. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      is that an absolutely bananapants way to run your computer network?

      It is, but I’ve worked so many places where Convenience trumps Security, Integrity, and Safety that it doesn’t surprise me at all.

      1. Worldwalker*

        See above about the consulting job: Inertia trumped Convenience, Security, Integrity, Safety, and Having An Actual Admin Password. Sheer inertia can account for a lot.

    12. bamcheeks*

      (Actually I’m kind of wondering whether there IS a track log-in, and IT has confirmed it was Lovely Church-Going Susie, but LW is so deep in denial they’re howling, “You can’t possibly know that!” even as Susie is dressed head to foot in new Amazon clothes.)

    13. No Longer Working*

      It could be the kind of company where you log in in the morning when you turn on the computer, and they stay on all day, and except for the financial people, there is nothing done that requires tight security. You may not be able to imagine this but there are industries where it’s not a big deal. Art, design, etc comes to mind.

      1. Katherine*

        Perfectly fine to get into your coworker’s email and send a few harassing emails or order stuff off their amazon account. Oh its ok because I work in art/design.

    14. Turquoisecow*

      Yeah what sort of IT security does this place have that you don’t log into your workstation? Even when I was a student back in the days where most of us didn’t have personal computers, you still had a log in at the computer lab!

    15. BubbleTea*

      In this specific case, I think we can probably be reasonably confident that the person who was using the computer at the time was the one who logged into their Amazon account and ordered things in their own name using credit cards from in a jacket they admitted they’d stolen… but that’s not going to work every time IT has questions about logins!

    16. 2014WantsItsPasswordBack*

      This immediately made me think of the school my wife teaches at. I go in with her once a year to help her set up her classroom. Every year I die a little inside when I learn that they’re still using the same wifi password from 2014.

  9. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    Oh this is one of my favourite AAM letters! ‘My colleague isn’t a thief because they go to church! I mean yeah they stole something but that doesn’t mean they meant to be a thief! Therefore we need to blame the victim!’

    What a bizarrely clueless letter writer.

    1. MigraineMonth*

      I’m a prison abolitionist and a big believer in second chances, and even I think the coworker should face real consequences for this. I’d consider firing appropriate, especially if the intern is being hired.

      “Hey new hire, this is Suzie, you remember her from when she stole your jacket, ran up fraudulent expenses on your credit card, lied about it, and orchestrated a campaign to smear your reputation. She’ll be your desk mate!”

      1. ferrina*

        Firing is a bare minimum for this!

        I’m glad the police got involved. Stealing a jacket from an intern is abhorrent and unjustifiable- like, why??? Someone who makes less than you owns something you like, and you feel like you are just….justified in taking it?
        And clearly the person also doesn’t have any remorse, and OP certainly won’t be holding their coworker responsible.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          I was trying to pinpoint why this was so offensive to me, and I think you nailed it here. Coworker stole from an intern, who is almost certainly far below an FTE on the pay scale and organizational hierarchy. I would be horrified if one of my coworkers behaved this way, regardless of how much I’d liked them before, and I’d be hard-pressed to see how they do not lose their job.

          1. Cedrus Libani*

            That, and how could you possibly trust this co-worker again with literally anything? Even if the intern is in fact a Machiavellian genius and set up the credit card fraud (and good for her if she did, but I doubt it), I’d trust the intern all day, though maybe I’d take some extra care to avoid pissing her off. She’s either done no wrong, or only wronged someone who truly had it coming. The co-worker is a problem. If you don’t understand why you can’t just take what you want, you need to be under supervision in a safe environment, not out in the world cosplaying as an adult.

      2. Temperance*

        I think that she lost any right to a “second chance” when she tried to frame her intern for framing her for the theft.

        My hunch is that the amount she tried to steal hit the felony level in their state, wheras even a cool jacket owned by an intern is unlikely to cross that line.

      3. MissElizaTudor*

        Being anti-carceral doesn’t mean being anti-consequences. People have a general right to free association, which includes disassociating from people who hurt other people. Restitution based justice is a good option for property crimes like this.

        Not to mention it doesn’t sound like this is a person who is taking accountability (blaming the intern for the credit card theft, rather than owning it or simply saying it wasn’t them if that’s the case), so a second chance with this group of people isn’t really available to them yet as they haven’t acted rightly with the first chance.

        So, firing the coworker and having them pay back what they stole, even with some extra for the suffering they caused, is perfectly consistent with believing in prison abolition and second chances (two things I also believe in).

        1. Observer*

          Restitution based justice is a good option for property crimes like this

          If it were only the actual theft, I’d agree. Even accounting for the fact of who she stole from. But she’s not only not showing any regret, she’s denying her culpability and trying to pin it one someone else – on her victim, no less! *S0mething* more than paying back what she stole should be at play here.

          so a second chance with this group of people isn’t really available to them yet as they haven’t acted rightly with the first chance.


          So, firing the coworker and having them pay back what they stole, even with some extra for the suffering they caused, is perfectly consistent with believing in prison abolition and second chances

          Yes. I think that the firing is a good additional piece.

      4. Itsa Me, Mario*

        Same. I’m a prison abolitionist, but that doesn’t mean people who steal should face no consequences whatsoever!

  10. A Simple Narwhal*

    Using a stolen credit card to buy something in your name might be pretty poor judgement, but you know what else is poor judgement? Stealing a jacket that you’ve been publicly mooning over, in broad daylight, in a place with CCTVs (that you are undoubtedly aware of).

    I’m hoping there’s more info the LW withheld, because it’s a pretty poor look to be so defensive of someone who’s done something so indefensible. It’s like they completely ignored the blatant theft and left it completely out of the equation.

  11. Richard Hershberger*

    I’m not quite getting the scenario the LW has in mind. There is no disagreement that the coworker stole the jacket while most of the office was in a meeting. The LW seems to believe that the intern came out of the meeting, realized the jacket was missing, immediately concluded that the coworker had stolen it, and leapt onto a computer to make those Amazon orders. Or perhaps the intern checked the video and decided to frame the coworker for a bigger theft out of revenge? They know exactly when the jacket was stolen. How long was it before the orders were placed? This should also be knowable, but we aren’t told. My inner cynic suspects that were the orders placed after the video had been checked, we would have been told.

    Also, did the intern replace their driver’s license and other cards? That would show real dedication to the bit, if this was all a setup.

    And “She is a good church member, so she would restrict herself to petty theft only” is not a great defense.

    1. the secret 11th commandment*

      As we all know, there’s a secret additional part of the bible that says petty theft is fine if you really want to do it

      1. birb*

        Obviously petty theft is not fine just because you really want to do it! You also have to outrank them at work and be a dedicated churchgoer.

        1. Liane*

          How many “extra” commandments are we up to now?
          11. Thou shalt not be guilty of coveting/stealing if thy heart really loveth thy neighbor’s stuff.
          12. If thy church-going neighbor committeth a crime thou shalt punish the victim and not thy neighbor.
          13. If a person confesses to one crime, it is an abomination unto Heaven to accuse them of other trespasses.

          Am I missing any?

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          Honestly, more than anything else, I’m dying to know what the jacket looked like. I need to know how cute it was to form a full judgment here lol

          1. birb*

            EVERY time we’ve dealt with this at work it was a person “confiscating” something they publicly admired many times, and it ended up coming down to contempt. They had no desire to have the jacket. They just wanted to take something from the victim and there was EVERY SINGLE TIME other harassment or bullying.

            My bet is the jacket wouldn’t even fit the thief… she just didn’t want the intern to have it. She could have never worn it to work, and it would be risky to even wear it in public. The compliments were probably a power trip and to gaslight her later… “Why would I always compliment you if I was going to steal it? I’m not stupid, I would have just taken it without saying anything if I was a thief!”

    2. pally*

      Yeah, this is what confuses me.

      How is it the intern, upon discovering the jacket is gone, knows to frame the staff member with credit card fraud? Why not frame someone else?

      It is not clear if the credit card purchases were made before, or after, the intern viewed the video.

      And yes, the time course of these events IS knowable.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      I am imagining the LW’s scenario as a heist/thriller movie scenario. The Nefarious Intern notices the Upstanding Coworker likes her jacket and starts plotting to bring down Upstanding Coworker…

      Step 1. Create a new Amazon account in Upstanding Coworker’s name, using a burner email address. Input her own credit card details into the account.

      Step 2. Flaunt the jacket at work every time Upstanding Coworker is within eye-/ear-shot to increase covetousness.

      Step 3. Leave the jacket unattended to increase temptation. Leave IDs and credit/debit cards in the jacket pocket.

      Step 4. Wait for Upstanding Coworker to succumb to temptation in an out-of-character moment of weakness and take the jacket.

      Step 5. Place orders in Coworker’s name from the fake Amazon account.

      Step 6. Report theft of the jacket (and IDs/credit/debit cards). The plan unfolds beautifully as the coworker was caught on videotape, IT can’t detect the Amazon orders were framed, and Nefarious Intern even nets a full-time job offer!

      1. Hlao-roo*

        (I would watch this movie or, even better, sitcom episode where the plot comes to light and everyone is inexplicably friends again in the next episode.)

      2. pally*


        Makes me wonder what the beef is betw. Nefarious Intern and Upstanding Coworker that would prompt such actions. And, how’d this get completely missed by LW?

      3. Richard Hershberger*

        My theory is that the coworker also stole the intern’s lunches. The intern tried bringing in a super spicy lunch, but it turned out the coworker liked it that way. Hence the need to escalate. Cheap-ass rolls probably also enter in somewhere.

      4. Irish Teacher.*

        That actually sounds like a plotline the Irish soap, Fair City might do, with Paul Brennan in the role of the intern and being Paul Brennan, he would say something like “hah, you really like this jacket, don’t you? But you will never have one and you know why? Because you’re a loser and you’ll always be a loser.” Until Fine Upstanding Coworker gets sick of being taunted and takes the jacket.

        (Paul Brennan is an obnoxious businessman who actually was embezzled by his Fine Upstanding Accountant.)

    4. Elsewise*

      The part that throws me off is that the cards were in the jacket pocket! So according to the LW, the intern noticed that the jacket was gone, figured out that the coworker took it, got her wallet out, placed a series of Amazon orders under the coworker’s name, and then broke into the coworker’s car and planted the wallet in the jacket and THEN reported the theft.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          Amazon will save your payment card. But you have to reenter the details if you enter a new address, to help prevent exactly these things.
          So to recap, we have to believe that the intern made sure she knew thief’s home address, then waited till thief stole jacket, then quickly place amazon orders to thief, then complain jacket is missing with wallet inside, thus framing thief for orders.
          Yeah, I’m gonna have to land on intern’s side here. Ridiculous.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        I don’t know if we know that the police found the cards in the coworker’s possession, so I guess the OP’s theory could be that the wallet never was actually in the jacket?

        1. Candi*

          Part of it is 1) the coworker had the jacket, and therefore wallet, in her possession for a given amount of time, and 2) most wallets are heavy enough, from materials if not contents, that on picking up the average jacket the weight will be noticeable and invite investigation. Particularly since a wallet in one pocket makes the weight unbalanced. So the coworker had the opportunity to notice the wallet, take it out, and use the cards.

    5. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

      I recall that the first time this letter appeared, there were some devil’s advocates saying that the wallet would not have been in the jacket because no woman ever keeps a wallet in her jacket (or something similarly ridiculous).

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Yeah, that was an interesting take. I went back and found it, looks like it was a commenter who went by Drowning In Paper Anna. From Anna’s first comment (link to follow in a reply to this comment):

        The intern – The intern is a woman, right? So, have any of you ever met a woman who keeps her cards and ID in a jacket pocket rather than a purse when dressed for the office? Have any of you actually seen a jacket appropriate for the office that has a pocket big enough for id and credit cards?

        1. Observer*

          Have any of you actually seen a jacket appropriate for the office that has a pocket big enough for id and credit cards?

          I missed this comment the first time round.

          I have to assume that this is a troll who is going off common tropes that they don’t quite understand. Because a lot of women’s clothes don’t have (usable) pockets – but that applies mostly to tops and skirts / pants. Not to jackets. Most of my jackets absolutely do have pockets big enough for a wallet, much less an ID and a card or two. How do your pockets need to be to hold a driver’s license (or DMV non-driver’s equivalent) and a couple of credit cards, anyway?

      2. Jack Skellington*

        Naturally no one keeps their wallet in their jacket, because women’s clothing is so famous for offering a multitude of available pocket options.

    6. Itsa Me, Mario*

      Similarly, I was wondering…. so is the idea that the intern tempted the colleague into stealing the jacket, out of annoyance that she kept admiring it? And thus the colleague fell into her cunning trap that was carefully laid in order to frame her for a larger crime?

  12. Aunt Bee’s Pickles*

    I remember this letter from the first time. I find it very hard to believe that a person with no prior criminal history would receive jail time for stealing a jacket only. Probation, probably, but not jail.

    1. juniper*

      suspended sentence surely, which still technically comes with “jail time” only you never do it

    2. Lydia*

      I had the same thought. This is not a one-off and Church-Goer probably has had some issues in the not-so-distant past.

    3. Annony*

      The LW said she pled guilty to the credit card fraud as well. She claims she didn’t do it but was advised to take the deal.

      1. ferrina*

        This isn’t super uncommon- even if you’re innocent, sometimes it’s better to take a plea deal than to go through the burden of a trial.

        But based on all the other details, it’s not at all likely that Coworker is exactly innocent.

    4. DeeDee*

      As I understand it, the jailtime it for the jacket and the many Amazon orders made with the credit card. I image that has some ID fraud and theft charges to it.

  13. Some Dude*

    What did the LW think happened? The intern was psychic and knew her jacket was going to be stolen by the employee so she placed the orders before the crime occurred? Or after she witnessed it being stolen she went and placed the orders before verifying there was evidence of the theft with security? IT can apparently tell where the orders were made from, so wouldn’t the time be apparent as well?

    Also, if IT can’t tell who logged into the PC in question, you need to replace your IT department. Well, I guess there’s always a chance that PCs are just logged in using shared accounts. But if that’s the case, you also need to replace your IT department.

    1. SarahKay*

      As far as IT goes, we have a number of computers with a shared log on for those team members who are only using them for part of the day. Anyone can access MS Office and the internet on these computers, but they then have to use their own password-protected ID to access the business operating system and certain portions of the network drive.
      So I could hop on and place an Amazon order without anyone knowing it was me – other than, presumably Amazon….

    2. Candi*

      “you need to replace your IT department.”

      Or replace the people who insist on hobbling what IT can do in regards to security. That’s usually a manglement problem.

  14. DramaQ*

    I would love to see an update from the intern. I think it would go along the lines of several weeks or months in she quit because her coworkers turned her into a pariah. I can’t imagine it was a very welcoming workplace.

    The letter writer does a lot of mental gymnastics here. People who commit crimes on their own work computer are in general not very bright.

    At one university I worked at a student sent a bomb threat hoping to get out of a test.

    He did it on a school library computer, under his username.

    They had him on camera and the computer registered he logged in with the timestamp.

    And he was still on campus. Took about five minutes to arrest him.

    So yeah totally believable the coworker was that dumb.

    Surprised IT couldn’t see who logged on. The company might want to look into closing that security hole. Any placed I’ve worked IT registers in the background the username on the computer and what time it logged on for security reasons.

    And it’s also quite a leap to think in the midst of it all the intern was going to lengths to frame the coworker for further crimes.

    1. many bells down*

      I’m currently waiting on the results of an investigation where a high-up coworker was using his work email for cybersex conversations. Guess who’s the Outlook admin who found – and had to read – all of them.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        I worked in ediscovery for corporate litigation for years, and it is absolutely horrifying the things people use their work email for. I don’t recall having a single large matter that did not have an “x-rated content” tag in the database.

        We also once worked on a sexual harassment suit where the lead attorney gave warnings about and apologized in advance for the contents of the evidence. At least we expected it then, unlike when you’re looking at a bunch of banal emails regarding lunch plans and, boom, dick pic.

    2. Cj*

      I watched a lot of True Crime shows, and the stupidity of criminals never seems to boggle my mind.

      two things I’ve learned you shouldn’t do, and that criminals do all the time:

      1. if you try to make it look like somebody broke into your house, break the glass from the outside with the door closed so it falls where it would have in a real break in. don’t break it from the inside so that the glass is on the outside, or break it from the outside but with the door open, so that the glass still isn’t where it belongs.

      2. if you kill or kidnap somebody, and take their car and leave it elsewhere like at a mall to make it look like they disappeared from there, make sure you put the seat where the victim would have had it. not in all cases obviously, but women will generally have the seat pulled much further forward than a guy. murderers are most often guys, and they don’t pull the seat forward when leaving the scene.

      1. BridgeofFire*

        I still remember one episode of Forensic Files where the victim disappeared after doing a storm inspection on a house, but the renters living there claimed they weren’t home at the time, and that the landlord hadn’t told them anyone was coming by. Just to cover their bases, the police ran a search to see if anyone had used her credit cards after she disappeared, not expecting any real results, or at least nothing that wasn’t a dead end.

        Credit card, used. The person who used the card, the male renter, who signed his real name on the receipt.

        1. BridgeofFire*

          My life for an edit button…it was a storm damage inspection. The victim was an insurance agent.

      2. TrixM*

        I used to work in a role adjacent to police dispatchers in my city. The best job ever was the wannabe burglars who dressed all in black with balaclavas who were caught up a ladder trying to break in via an upper floor window… because the idiots had put the ladder up in full view of the street and were climbing up it in broad daylight.

        The person calling it in had delayed doing so for several minutes because she thought it was a prank or being filmed. It wasn’t until one of them dropped a crowbar that she believed what she was seeing.

        It’s sadly true that many people who become criminals aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer. It’s not uncommon for people to get dragged into the “trade” when young by someone willing to exploit the naïve or vulnerable, and after the first arrest, their options become almost non-existent.

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      When I was in college, a football player lost his scholarship and chance to be seen by NFL scouts because he stole a number of everyday items from a dorm room (one of them was a container of salt) plus the occupant’s checkbook. He proceeded to write himself a check for less than $100. A check to himself, in his own name. Like no one was going to figure that out.

      I always appreciate when criminals are stupid. Makes the investigation and prosecution much easier, less costly, and most accurate.

    4. AMT*

      You’d think people would learn that activity on computers can be traced, but apparently not! Every time a celebrity gets admitted to a hospital, multiple employees who aren’t part of said celebrity’s treatment team get fired for snooping in their chart. Chart access can be audited in every electronic health records system on the planet, and this is made *abundantly* clear during your training, but people still get curious and don’t think about the fact that hospital administration definitely would have put an alert on George Clooney’s chart the second he was admitted. It’s one of the dumbest forms of misconduct imaginable, like Googling “how to murder someone” before you murder someone.

    5. Samwise*

      It’s just as likely that they can, but they’re not sharing that info with the OP, because it’s none of the OP’s damm business.

    6. MCMonkeyBean*

      I’m hoping OP was an outlier in believing the thieving coworker so immediately and completely, and maybe they came to Ask a Manager specifically hoping for some arguments they could use to get everyone else on their side…

    7. Princess Sparklepony*

      The IT department may know exactly who it was and have turned that info over to the police.

      But LW doesn’t want to believe anything bad about her co-worker so that part is either glossed over or she never knew it in the first place since she’s not in a position to know.

  15. Glazed Donut*

    When I was growing up, my father had a shop (sewing equipment, lumber, etc) for his business. On the occasions my sister and I were hanging out at the shop, we wrote each others’ names on scrap tables, etc in order to ‘frame’ the other. Neither of us was older than 8 or 9.
    This whole situation seems immature and I wonder if perhaps both the intern and the employee could find employment elsewhere…

    1. Nebula*

      What did the intern do that seems immature to you? It’s only the person who stole the jacket who insists that the intern tried to frame her with the Amazon orders.

      1. Grissi*

        The intern wasn’t immature, but they deserve to work somewhere better than this, with reasonable human beings for colleagues, who don’t either steal their stuff or invent ridiculous scenarios to turn the blame to them.

    2. Irish Teacher.*

      There’s no reason at all to believe anybody actually tried to frame anybody else here though. The coworker stole a jacket and presumably committed credit card fraud. She then claimed “yeah, OK, I did the crime I got caught on CCTV camera for, but I didn’t do the other one. Somebody must have framed me.”

      It sounds like the employee is likely to end up with a criminal record which will make it rather more difficult for them to find employment going forward. The intern has no part in this except being the unlucky person who was stolen from.

  16. She of Many Hats*

    I would be curious to know if the police accessed any security footage from the post office to see who actually tried to collect the orders.

    1. Candi*

      It was an Amazon drop point, which goods may or may not go through the post office.

      The drop points usually do have cameras, mostly so Amazon can cover their rear ends.

  17. mango chiffon*

    It seems telling to me that the LW is absolutely certain the intern lied, but the police charged the jacket thief with stealing and using the credit cards. I’d assume the police had more evidence around the credit card aspect than the LW, and they would have no reason to share that with the LW.

    1. pally*


      There’s got to be something the police found that gave them probable cause to charge the staff person with using the stolen credit cards. They don’t go round just charging folks with crimes.
      And they aren’t going to share what they found indiscriminately.

      1. Random Bystander*

        Yes, the police can be quite close-mouthed about things when speaking with someone who might be a witness. I remember many years ago, when I lived in another city, a neighbor in an apartment (most everyone was single family, but this one building contained three apartments) had allegedly suffered a robbery where $1300 in cash was stolen from a dresser drawer. Now suspicious things involved the fact that the male half of the couple had no known occupation other than a once-a-week trip down to a place in another state about 8 hours drive time away; the female half worked at McDonalds. Female half went to work and basically had to be talked into calling the police about the robbery, and then proceeded to give the police a description that only fit about 90% of the adult male population (something like ‘between 5’6″ and 6’2″, medium build, wearing jeans and a hoodie’). This is all stuff that I pieced together from the newspaper write up afterwards.

        The day of, though, the police came over to my house and said that they were interested in knowing if I had noticed anything unusual earlier that day. Well, the only thing I really had noticed was that my dog had started barking like mad when the police came, but hadn’t barked at all during the time that they were interested in. But as far as what had happened, they just said “an incident occurred” with the neighbor and would not elaborate further.

        1. Zarniwoop*

          There’s a Sherlock Holmes story in (Silver Blaze) which a dog not barking is significant. Maybe it was here too – silent dog = no strangers entered the house.

    2. Observer*

      I’d assume the police had more evidence around the credit card aspect than the LW, and they would have no reason to share that with the LW.

      Yeah. The odds of the police doing this purely on the say-so of the intern, and then the DA go forward only offering a deal that includes some prison time based solely on the Intern’s say-so, are next to nothing.

      Of course, we can’t know 100% for sure what happened. But I *am* completely confident that there is a lot more going on than just what the intern said.

  18. 123*

    LW… this person STOLE and item from a coworker… they are clearly not very smart and capable of committing crimes. Also this feels along the lines of blaming the victim… so I guess accusing the victim?

    1. Satan’s Panties*

      Yeah, LW starts right off with “The intern created a situation where she lied to the police.” Like a teenage girl who “got herself pregnant”. According to LW, Co-worker is the innocent victim of the intern’s fraud. ::head explodes::

  19. ErinWV*

    I’m curious how the Amazon fraud part of this situation played out. Facts in evidence are: someone ordered stuff on intern’s credit card, and IT has determined the order was placed on a company computer. But no one knows (or OP doesn’t say) what Amazon account this order was placed from? Intern’s or staffer’s account? Or was a burner account created for the purpose?

    1. Pennywise*

      I agree. My conclusion is that the OP just ignored that part of it, but most certainly the police didn’t. They aren’t going to charge someone with the credit card theft just on someone’s say so. I’m sure they had evidence that the coworker did steal it.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        The number of facts that should be readily available but which pass unmentioned suggest that the most generous interpretation of the LW is one of incuriosity prior to coming to a conclusion.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I’m guessing the staffer’s account based on the competence of the other parts of the crime.

  20. Awlbiste*

    “It’s like robbing a house and leaving a signed note behind.”

    You’d think people would be smarter than that, except I did work with someone who stole from petty cash and left a note with their name on it. Cameras showed them doing it.

    1. Worldwalker*

      There have been people who robbed banks with their demands written on the backs of their printed deposit slips.

      Also plenty of people who held up stores and fast food places where they had filled out a job application the same day.

    2. SB*

      My ex husband has a relative who went to the trouble to shaving off all his hair (head, face, body) so he could rob a house & not accidentally leave any DNA…used his mobile phone WHILE in the process of robbing the house, put it down on the kitchen counter & left it behind. Christmas with his family that year was fun…the jokes I made.

    3. Nightengale*

      someone broke in and stole my VCR and left behind a wallet with a former prison ID
      they actually broke back in the next day and returned the VCR and I suspect tried to find the wallet.

    4. And the Skeletons Are ... Part of It*

      The accountant at a store I worked for embezzled five figures over the course of several months. Didn’t get noticed for a while (dumb store, no checks and balances) but when it did, it was like… vendor checks going to his bank account. That stupid.

  21. Dust Bunny*

    The staff member is credible, she has no history of trouble working here, has no criminal record and is a good person who volunteers and is active with her church and her family.

    Yeah, and she stole a jacket.

    I can name you plenty of people to trot to church every Sunday but are also bigots, liars, cheats, etc., and they aren’t even the ones who make it into the news. A nice Christian guy from my parents’ place of worship got arrested for soliciting an adolescent girl.

    So maybe the intern framed the employee, but maybe the employee tried to head off the intern by framing her first?

    But the one thing you do know that the employee stole the jacket.

  22. AvonLady Barksdale*

    What we learn from this today is that if your workplace has CCTV, maybe it actually is better to scream your frustrations into the cameras than to blatantly steal something. One gets you side-eye, the other gets you convicted.

      1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

        That’s actually a reference to a letter that ran shortly before this one. I won’t post the link, because it’ll go into moderation, but here’s the info:

        “employee doesn’t check his email when he arrives, I yelled at our company cameras, and more”
        posted October 9, 2023

  23. Irish Teacher.*

    However one of them has created a situation where she lied to the police, but my boss and HR have still decided to offer her a job.
    Honestly, this line jumped out at me, because there is absolutely nothing at all to suggest the intern lied to the police. It’s pretty clear the LW has already decided who she believes

    A staff member really liked the intern’s jacket and would often comment saying so.
    And this seems to be downplaying the theft of the jacket as if it was just a case of “she couldn’t resist it.”

    1. londonedit*

      And then that same staff member was literally caught on camera taking the jacket! If it was a case of ‘this intern is accusing our colleague of theft based on the fact that she said she liked the intern’s jacket’ then fair enough. But the colleague was caught on camera stealing the jacket. You can’t make an excuse for that – it doesn’t matter how much she liked it! And the idea of the intern immediately deciding that the way to deal with the theft of her jacket is to frame the colleague for also stealing her credit card and making unauthorised Amazon purchases? That’s just farcical. As far as I can see the intern has done nothing wrong and has had their property stolen and their credit card used fraudulently, and the OP is somehow trying to twist themselves in knots to make it all the intern’s fault that their colleague was arrested for theft.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        I’m guessing the part about really liking the jacket is meant as mitigation, like “OK, she stole the jacket, but that was only ’cause she really, really liked it. She wouldn’t steal anything else!” Yeah, that is flawed logic in a whole load of ways, not least that really liking something doesn’t justify stealing it.

      2. Kittyfish76*

        Credit card fraud aside, I am curious if the staff member would have then worn the jacket to work…..

    2. Pretty as a Princess*

      Also the “has created a situation” – the intern didn’t create the situation, the thief did.

      This LW really seems to have had it in for the intern. And I’m getting a whiff of dog-whistling off of the language. The intern is very clearly perceived by the LW as somehow “other” and thus the perpetrator of the “situation” and the person who is like the LW and does things the LW prioritizes clearly has been mightily wronged.

    3. Turquoisecow*

      I have seen many beautiful things in my life that belonged to others but I have not ever been tempted to steal them, never mind actually stealing them.

    4. Princess Sparklepony*

      The jacket made her do it. It can’t just be sitting there looking all pretty and not expect someone to take it. It’s just human nature.


  24. Jessica*

    Interestingly, the letter never mentions the coworker being fired. I’d assume she would have been, but can one really assume anything about the personnel policies at Bananas, Inc.?

    1. Czhorat*

      I thought the same thing; I’m not big on “one strike and you’re out” firing situations, but sometimes an employee needs a swift introduction to the door. Committing a crime against a coworker should be one of those cases.

      1. Worldwalker*

        Gold Rush mining camp justice: a thief was hanged. Not just to discourage theft or at least to discourage *that* thief, but because theft breaks down the social cohesion of a group, so the members can’t trust each other. When you have a group who are depending on each other for survival and living with no law but their own, theft is frequently considered at least as bad a crime as murder. See also: pirates. Theft from *other* people by the ship-full was how they made their living, but theft from each other was a capital crime. And the letter is a good demonstration of how that breakdown happens.

        I once had a boss who’d grown up in the Projects in Chicago. He said his mother had told him “There might be times when you have to kill, but there’s never a time when you have to steal.”

      2. Cedrus Libani*

        I’m not a fan of “one strike” either, when it’s an honest mistake or even a momentary lapse (e.g. lying under pressure when questioned about a mistake). But if someone’s gone out of their way to be dishonest, they need to be gone immediately.

        Years ago, I heard a story about an enterprising bagel shop owner who decided to offer his wares in the office buildings of the downtown “financial district”. He would set up a station with bagels and a place to deposit money. In some offices, the bagels and/or money would disappear. He would get permission to set up a hidden camera, catch the thief in the act, and give the footage to their employer. The smart employers would fire the offender, and then would realize that there was much worse going on under their noses once the thief was no longer around to cover it up. This happened so consistently that the bagel guy started marketing himself as a fraud prevention service. He was cheaper than a forensic accountant, and the footage of the purloined pastries was a lot harder to dispute than other forms of dismissal for cause, yet you could be pretty sure that your bagel thief had bigger plans. False in one, false in all.

  25. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

    Something I didn’t notice when this was originally posted: the idea that someone being “active with her family” means she’s a good person and not a thief. Spending time with one’s family feels like a different thing from going to church. Both of those are different from charitable works, and (of course) thieves sometimes donate to charity.

    I suspect the letter writer thinks of “active with her church and with family” as meaning the jacket thief is involved in two social groups/activities that LW approves of. But they feel like two different things to me.

    1. Irish Teacher.*

      I noticed the same thing. I’d guess she means “she’s a good mother/daughter so she can’t be a thief” (which obviously doesn’t make sense because we know she is a thief).

    2. londonedit*

      People often use ‘family man’ etc as shorthand for ‘fine upstanding decent person’ – I imagined that was what the OP meant here. The colleague is a ‘devoted mother’ or whatever, as if that automatically makes her a good person. To me it seems like the bare minimum – if you have a family, of course you should be actively supporting them and spending time with them (unless they’re actually horrible people).

    3. Person from the Resume*

      I mean, the intern is likely an unmarried young woman who if she is “church-going” has not told the LW about it.

      The fact that the LW believes the church-going wife and mother who has admitted to a petty crime over the young intern is quite telling.

      The LW is very biased about conservative, traditional Christians being innocent even when they are caught stealing a jacket.

    4. jellied brains*

      History shows that crime bosses often donate to charities to either keep their reputations looking good or as a protection scam.

      Not that I think the coworker is a master criminal but good works don’t always equal a good person.

  26. Hybrid Employee (Part Human, Part Wolf)*

    What’s always bothered me about this letter isn’t only truly dizzying benefit of the doubt the thief gets partly for being “active with her church,” but the implication of the inverse: for the LW, folks like me who are not active with any church (because of the atheism) are more suspicious and less worthy of that benefit. If the thief had not been a churchgoer, how would LW’s estimation change? There’s a lot wrong with LW’s thinking here, but the bias makes her harder to trust.

    1. Lost academic*

      I don’t blame you for being offended but I find it’s usually a shorthand way of saying someone is involved in their community, had close ties to it and values others. I am not saying that they do, but that this is the intended subtext. we would all like to believe that more community ties and related empathy reduce crimes

      1. Temperance*

        I actually don’t think that it’s shorthand for “good community member”. It very clearly rests on the faith practices and/or beliefs espoused by that church.

      2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        I have never once heard it used in that way. Maybe in areas where 99% of people are churchgoing Christians? I’ve only ever heard it to mean “they’re Christian” (with the intended subtext being “Christians, and only Christians, are good people”).

    2. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

      I suspect this is one of those things that has less to do with ‘you’re suspicious because you don’t’ but ‘she’s not suspicious because she shares traits with me and I’m a good person who’d never.’ I think LW is probably a church-goer as well and thus has an extreme bias. It’s the same as the parents who are biased toward favoring other parents and against single people when it comes to perks. Or people who are biased in favor of people who went to the same school as them or played the same sport in college or [other unifying/fraternity/sorority/etc thing] against those who didn’t.

      It’s more a testament to LW’s mindset imo. Because you couldn’t possibly know someone is a devout church goer unless 1) they’re going around talking about it (and how good they are and how they pray for you) or 2) she personally knows the coworker/is friends with her. Plenty of my coworkers have been devout and I never knew until it was somewhat forced out of them by circumstance.

  27. WellRed*

    If the coworker hadn’t been caught stealing, would she have been stupid enough to wear the jacket to work?

    1. Hybrid Employee (Part Human, Part Wolf)*

      “I liked it so much I went and bought the same one! Oh, yours disappeared? Weird!”

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      I did see that happen in high school. My friend “lost” her jacket and then another girl started wearing the same one. But when she took it off in class you could literally see my friend’s initials written in giant letters on the tag… so another one of our friends just took it back.

      It was very weird. It was a North Face fleece so it wasn’t like wildly unique or anything but still pretty brazen.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        Oh also it’s on a much smaller scale but I’m pretty sure someone stole a big butterfly hairclip when I was in a community theater show one time. I saw them wearing it and was like “oh hey I have the same clip!” but then I couldn’t find mine so I’m pretty sure it was actually the one she was wearing…

  28. Columbo*

    Look, in any detective show, after showing her the tape of her thieving the coat, he’d say “now, if you want, I can show you the tape of you ordering the goods, or we can plead this out right here” and the gullible criminal will believe said tape exists and cave.

    Roll credits.

  29. Sunflower*

    She was caught stealing and the LW says it the *intern* who lied? Get your head out of the sand.

    I’d love to hear from the intern on how they were treated by this LW.

    1. Czhorat*

      Yeah. She only admitted to taking the jacket because there’s literal video of it. She didn’t admit to stealing the credit cards because she thought she could get away with that.

      If I have to assume someone in this scenario is a liar, I’d assume it’s the person who literally stole a jacket from one of the lowest-status and lowest-paid people in the company.

      1. Rose*

        Exactly. Doing this to someone with so much less power than you is so incredibly gross and amoral.

        I find it hard to believe and hard to understand that the their kept their job. I would be so uncomfortable working with someone if I couldn’t even leave some something as simple as a jacket out without risking it being stolen.

      2. Princess Sparklepony*

        I’m much less trusting than you are. I think there is tape or some sort of verification that it is the co-worker that ordered the stuff on Amazon from the work computers but LW has no idea about it because it’s not her business.

        This could also be why the C-W was happy to take the plea deal and be done with it assuming that by taking the plea deal some of the charges were dropped or turned from felonies to misdemeanors. I don’t trust the C-W one bit and I don’t trust the LW to give us the whole story.

  30. I can't decide who I am*

    I hope that the intern from this letter does not know the coworker from the other letter who lied about a harassment complaint. What is it with these people to commit such idiotic crimes?

  31. Local gov lady*

    “All that said … it would be awfully poor judgment to use your own name when ordering on someone else’s stolen credit card! ”

    I’m confused by this part-
    I was thinking that the thief employee was claiming that the intern used her own credit card to make purchases in her own name, then claiming that the thief in fact did it. not that the intern used the thief’s name.

    Either way, wholeheartedly agree that the thief is not the trustworthy person here….

    1. Rose*

      Either way, this person was stupid enough to

      1) compliment an item multiple times before stealing it

      2) walk through a parking garage (a type of area very frequently monitored by cameras) holding the stolen item in broad daylight. M

      This isn’t Frank Abagnale.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      The orders were placed in the name of the staff member, the one who stole the jacket. They were made with the intern’s credit card. Intern says the staff member stole her cards and then placed a bunch of orders, staff member says no I didn’t place those orders the intern must have done it to try to frame me.

      Presumably it would have been pretty easy to figure out who was lying based on where the packages got delivered?

      1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        They were delivered to an Amazon pickup location. The police should be able to determine what account was used, though.

        1. Princess Sparklepony*

          More likely the police are looking at the footage from the pickup location to see who is picking up the packages. That’s the thief.

  32. Pink Candyfloss*

    It’s easy enough for the police to verify if the Amazon purchases happened before the CCTV footage was reviewed and the thief identified. Seems a bit of a stretch that the intern would try to frame someone for theft without actually having known who stole the jacket and her things. One can reasonably assume the staff member made this same excuse to the police and they ruled it out as implausible. Occam’s razor applies here ….

  33. MicroManagered*

    I’m not a lawyer but I’m a true crime fan, which is pretty much the same thing. (/s)

    If the jacket thief’s attorney advised her to take a plea on the credit card charges, it’s because there’s enough evidence to convict her. If a judge or jury wouldn’t believe the she stole the jacket as you can clearly see on film, but the victim created a fake Amazon account with fake orders in the thief’s name to frame her story, I don’t know why OP believes it so readily.

    1. MissElizaTudor*

      This isn’t true.

      Plea deals are sadly extremely common in the United States (most criminal cases don’t ever go to trial, like more than 90%) for a number of reasons, including the risk of harsher sentencing with going to trial, the harms of pre-trial detention, and the desire to save time and money.

      However, “the vast majority of people accused of crimes have sufficient evidence against them to be found guilty in a trial” isn’t one of the reasons plea bargains are so common.

      In this case, yes, the coworker seems very guilty, and there’s good evidence for at least some of the crimes they committed but it isn’t a general truth about being advised to accept a plea deal.

      The fact that the US has such a high rate of plea bargains isn’t some positive thing where it’s a time and money saver since most people would have been found guilty if they’d gone to trial. That’s not true. It’s really a systemic problem that results in justice and the basic right to trial effectively being denied to a lot of people.

      1. Observer*

        However, “the vast majority of people accused of crimes have sufficient evidence against them to be found guilty in a trial” isn’t one of the reasons plea bargains are so common.

        True. But the vast majority have enough evidence to actually not get laughed out of court. They certainly don’t happen just because one fairly low ranked person made an accusation.

        1. AMT*

          Yep. It’s possible there isn’t enough evidence to convict if it went to trial, but no prosecutor in their right mind is going to be like, “Let’s just add this random, unsubstantiated accusation for kicks.”

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yeah, it’s wild for the OP to believe the staff member with such certainty when the only thing known for 100% sure was that she objectively did steal the intern’s jacket–but a plea bargain should not be used as a reason to assume someone is guilty!

      3. MicroManagered*

        You seem to be misinterpreting my comment as saying there’s no such thing as a false conviction or that nobody has ever plead guilty to a crime they did not commit — which is not what I’m saying.

        I’m saying that no reasonable, objective party would believe this version of events.

    1. AMT*

      This is going on my to-watch list — thanks! I love workplace drama and small-town crimes an unhealthy amount. My town had an embezzlement story that involved the fire department’s longtime admin stealing over a million and a half over her 20+ year career by doubling the cost of vendors’ invoices and pocketing the extra. The department was notoriously cash-strapped and could never seem to afford new equipment or staff raises. Meanwhile, the admin was constantly buying lavish gifts for her family on what was supposed to be a modest salary. No one looked into it until a bank teller who had recently attended fraud awareness training noticed that she was constantly coming in and cashing checks without depositing the money to her account. (Dumb criminal move: going to the same bank branch every time.) That’s basically the whole story, but it was the talk of my very tiny town for months.

    2. Rainy*

      Thank you for the recommendation! I found it on Freevee and Mr Rainy and I will watch it soon!

  34. Ann O'Nemity*

    The staff member stole a jacket – from an INTERN! All credibility is trashed. I wouldn’t trust this person around any thing of value.

    And of course the company hired the victim! Why wouldn’t they? I’m surprised they didn’t fire the thieving staff member.

    1. Rose*

      THANK YOU! I cannot believe I had to scroll this far to find this comment. This woman should have been fired on the door.

      In what world does this woman keep her job? It’s absolutely insane. How is any employee supposed to feel comfortable bringing anything of value, or even anything they need to get home without freezing to death, to work? How is the intern supposed to ever feel comfortable working around her? “Oh, there’s the women two levels up from me who glares at me in meetings because I correctly accused her of stealing my personal belongings.” How do you email that person asking them if they can possibly get you the jones report a day early or pull some widget production data for you?

      1. Observer*

        In what world does this woman keep her job?

        In a world where they assume that this woman is going to have to quit / “abandon” her job, since she’s getting jail time. It’s easier this way, for the company.

        I still think she should be explicitly fired, but (assuming that she has not actually been fired), I can see why they would go the easy rout.

  35. Janeric*

    Not to be cynical but the. The OPTICS of not offering a job to the person who had their identity stolen because the thief is more “reliable”. Like, what a way to turn a quiet HR issue into a potential publicity nightmare. I would hire someone who spent 5 hours a day on their phone over the possibility that the “yeah they refused to hire me because one of their staff stole my identity and I pressed charges” story got out.

    “Anyway they have her on video stealing a jacket with my wallet in it and she paid for a bunch of stuff with my cards but she used her name but a lot of senior staff thought I’d faked her shopping spree so they didn’t hire me.”

    1. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

      Honestly, if I was the intern, I wouldn’t want to work here at all. I’d just use the experience and hopefully a more rational coworker as a reference to bounce.

      1. Janeric*

        I think that’s very wise, and if I were HR I would also offer to serve as a reference independent of OP.

      2. Candi*

        I wonder if the internship was through a school, if the intern told her contact.

        And I wonder what the story is behind your username.

  36. Risha*

    This LW’s view on the coworker vs the intern really does not sit right with me (I’m not saying what I really want to say about this LW). Many people have a dark side to them that they choose not to show certain people. LW only knows this person from work. The LW does not know how she is outside of work, or what she’s capable of doing (obviously at least capable of theft at work). She was caught on camera and admitted to theft, and the LW is still defending her? It’s possible she ran up the Amazon charges because she knew LW (and maybe others) would defend her. I know this is an old letter, but I feel so bad for the intern and I hope she was able to move on to a better employer that takes these types of things seriously.

    This is also how people get away with being abusers and a bad person. When someone tries to come forward, everyone else will defend the bad person, since *they* never saw any bad behavior and because the abuser goes to church. You cannot know how someone is all the time, or what thoughts/impulses they have. I wouldn’t put anything past anyone, because you can never be 100% sure.

    1. Ukdancer*

      Yes the author Anne Rule worked closely with Ted Bundy and got on well with him. She wasn’t his preferred victim type so she never saw him as a killer. She was sceptical at first about his guilt because he was the nice chap who looked out for her and walked her to her car.

  37. FunkyNote*

    No way of knowing who ordered from Amazon? This is easily found out. Both of them could login to their Amazon accounts and show their past orders. I’ve actually found out who ordered something from Amazon with a company credit card just by having the card number and calling Amazon. They told me whose account had used it, it took a while but it’s possible to find out.

  38. Federal Worker Drone*

    Not only has the “good church going woman so you can trust her word” employee stolen property on camera, she has openly violated 2 out of 10 (fully ONE FIFTH) of The Big Ten Rules (Thou Shalt Not Steal and Thou Shalt Not Covet).

    Seems Church Lady needs some remedial work….

    1. Liane*

      There is also probably someone violating the commandment against bearing false witness and – spoiler! – it’s not Intern.
      So that brings it closer to a third of the commandments.

  39. Ambulance Chaser*

    I work in criminal defense, and really, the overwhelming majority of crimes would elicit this same kind of “Who would be so dumb?” reaction. Crimes are what happens when people’s ability to rationally apprehend consequences goes totally out the window. They aren’t thinking about how to avoid detection because they aren’t thinking about the possibility of detection in the first place. I think to commit a crime, you have to think you can actually bend reality to your will, at least for a little while.

    For a similar reason, it’s also not uncommon for people to try to explain away all or part of the crime with convoluted, easily disproven stories like this: they need these stories to be true so badly in order for them to even face themselves that it just doesn’t compute that the lie will be obvious to other people. In this case, if law enforcement and prosecutors knew which credit card and which computer was used to place the orders, they probably also knew which Amazon account was used. If it were, say, the intern’s account that had that same credit card saved, I doubt the coworker would have been in this position.

    1. TootSweet*

      Bingo! I work in correctional health care, and I’ve learned a lot about criminal thinking from our mental/behavioral health professionals. The type of thinking you described is not always the case, but it applies in so many cases.

    2. epizeugma*

      I mean, “crime” can describe a lot of things, up to and including existing as a member of a criminalized minority group (an anti-drag bill in my state, for example, was written so broadly that it would have criminalized a transgender minister preaching in front of a congregation), or stealing menstrual products from a drugstore because food stamps don’t cover them, or any other number of actions where a person feels this is the only viable choice to have their needs met.

      But for things like embezzlement, petty theft of non-essential items from other individual people, etc, sure, I agree that there is a degree of magical thinking involved, whether it’s simply not considering the potential consequences, or having the cognitive dissonance of “only Bad People do Crimes and I’m a good person so really it’s not a Bad Crime for me to skim off the top of the collection plate, since I work so hard, I deserve to have this.”

  40. Single Parent Barbie*

    ***Amazon order had good church going co-workers name but was set for a pick up not sent to their home. So obviously the intern must be setting them up. ****

    You would need photo id for picking up the packages at a pick up point (if it wasn’t one of those locker pick up places.)

    It doesn’t say order was made from Intern’s account. Merely that her credit card(s) were used.

    But the bottom line is, the only argument the OP has that its a set up is this a good person who volunteers, goes to church and never causes any trouble (other than that whole stealing thing…)

  41. Elizabeth West*

    If Fergusina would brazenly yoink someone else’s property, I can’t see any reason she would not also use a credit card in the pocket to order stuff online. If the orders were placed on her Amazon account, then HELLOOOOO.

    The simplest explanation is often the correct one.

  42. Musikal*

    Anyone else notice the comment about how they can tell which computer was used but not who placed the order? Wonder whose computer was used? I’m guessing it was the staff members computer but the writer is still imagining a revenge obsessed intern sneaking in. I’m amazed by these orders being made at the place of business. That’s pretty brazen, as is the theft.

  43. CraigT*

    So you’re ignoring the theft. You’ve decided you know more than the police. And you’re ignorant of the fact that upper management and HR, probably know facts about the case than they are discussing. I realize this post is several years old, but I hope you backed away and let the experts do their jobs.

  44. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

    I remember using the ‘Surprise Me’ button and reading this. Absolutely bonkers the way the LW framed this and the cognitive dissonance.

    I felt bad for the intern. LW clearly did not like them.

  45. NYNY*

    One of the local ministers where I live was arrested for running a shoplifting ring. So sad, people would go to his church for guidance and support and he roped them into stealing expensive items from Home Depot and he resold.

    1. Anon in IL*

      The Wall St Journal had a deep dive into this story a few days ago. Amazing how much he stole and how long it took to shut him down. Very sad and shocking.

  46. pally*

    All that staff member had to do was ask the intern where she purchased the jacket or what brand it was. Then go get one for herself. That’s what folks do when one greatly admires something belonging to another. Buy your own and enjoy it.

    1. Itsa Me, Mario*

      Alternately, offer to buy it from them? I had an old hoodie in my desk at work for days the AC was too powerful. It meant nothing to me and wasn’t anything irreplaceable. I once lent it to a colleague, who adored it and was disappointed that it was 10+ years old with no obvious way to buy the exact same hoodie. So she gave me $20 for it. No crime needed.

  47. MCMonkeyBean*

    I agree that making purchases on a stolen card in your name seems so stupid that you hope that story isn’t true, but frankly so is stealing a jacket you have apparently openly and publicly expressed admiration for on multiple occasions!

    It’s certainly possible that the intern was doing some kind of revenge frame-up, but that would be pretty stupid too as it would probably be found out by the police pretty easily. It’s absolutely wild that the OP just decided that was fact before any kind of investigation was finished.

    I’m certainly curious how this turned out–I would think it would have been pretty easy for the police to determine what address the Amazon orders got delivered to right?

    1. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

      The timeline on this would make it pretty certain to me what is actually a valid possibility. If the orders were placed before the intern had discovered the theft (it was done from a work computer, so it sounds like the same day since the intern very surely went to security when she noticed her jacket was gone after the meeting), then it’s obviously the coworker who did it to me. If my jacket had been taken, the first thing I would do is call my bank to report them stolen before even going to security…although that may be assuming this intern wasn’t freaking out/would be as attentive, I suppose.

      They just need to time the order was placed, not even who placed it. If the intern did it for revenge, then it would have to have been after she went to security, reviewed the footage, and knew who to “frame” for revenge.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Watch a few true crime shows and you’ll see that criminals do criminally stupid things all the time. There’s a specific episode of one show that I watch even though I’ve seen it a zillion times because the killer made so many errors that it just doesn’t seem real.

  48. Gingerbread Lady*

    Having no criminal record does NOT mean that OP’s colleague never committed a crime; it just means that, if she DID commit other crimes, she was never identified, caught, and charged. Who knows what else she’s stolen in locations that lack security cameras pointed towards her?

    “By their fruits ye shall know them”; you don’t have to be a Christian (I’m not) to know that this is sound common sense. The OP’s colleague has proven herself to be a thief; why should anyone have taken her word over that of someone who, according to the OP, has never been known to be dishonest?

    1. Observer*

      The OP’s colleague has proven herself to be a thief; why should anyone have taken her word over that of someone who, according to the OP, has never been known to be dishonest?

      Exactly! The line “she is credible” makes absolutely ZERO sense in the context of a theft which she has absolutely undoubtedly committed.

    2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      It could also mean she lied about that too, or quietly let everyone assume she didn’t have a criminal record.

      I don’t think about whether most of my friends have criminal records. But if I got to the point of wondering whether a specific person had a criminal record, I’m not sure I’d take a “no” at face value. It might be true, or the person might have a record under another name and/or in another state.

  49. Jessica*

    Sometimes I wonder if other cultures have the same obsession with finding reasons victims of crimes must have sorta deserved it, or if that’s just our uniquely American brainworms.

  50. Anne Shirley*

    I agree we are missing some key information. If the intern got the police involved, and the employee admitted to stealing the jacket (!), can’t we assume the jacket was returned to the intern? Were the orders placed before the jacket was returned? There will be timestamps in the police report, the browsing history, and in the Amazon order information.

    1. Anne Shirley*

      Also…there will also be timestamps on the camera footage. Did the intern get the jacket returned to her before filing the police report? How does the employee still have a job? Would she have worn the jacket to church? I have so many questions.

    2. Satan's Panties*

      Was the wallet still in the pocket when the coat was returned? Was the bank/credit card used for the Amazon orders still in it, and in the same spot it had been before? Although LW could probably spin anything her way. “Of course the card had been removed! Intern had to take it out so she could place the Amazon orders! She probably broke into Co-worker’s car to get the wallet back and left the jacket where it was. Because she didn’t even care about getting it back — she just wanted to get Co-worker in trouble!”

  51. SB*

    Why do people seem to assume that if someone volunteers & goes to church they can’t possibly do bad things? She stole from a coworker. That should be the only proof you need that she is capable of theft. Why is this intern, who was the victim of theft, being placed under suspicion by the rest of the office when they appear to have done nothing wrong????

    Honestly, if this was me, I would be gunning for OP’s job (bullying & harassment) through HR.

  52. Coverage Associate*

    I would like to think that either law enforcement insisted on seeing evidence that the intern replaced all her cards, or the defense attorney did. Sure seems like a hassle to undertake just to frame someone. But I could kind of see it if the employer doubted the intern when she reported the theft, and the employer refused to check the cameras. Maybe the intern upped the ante while waiting for the police? Though, yeah, super risky frame job to do on a work computer, and presumably the pick up location has cameras too.

    Anyway, it’s really easy for law enforcement to check information about drivers licenses. I could see no one asking about the new bank accounts, but again I would hope they would check that a new ID was issued.

  53. Melissa*

    I’ve worked in the criminal justice system for years and it would not surprise me AT ALL if someone ordered in their own name on a stolen credit card. I had a client who was midway through robbing a house and ran away when the owners came home, only to leave their (registered) car, filled with the owner’s belongings, in the driveway. Another robbed his local pub where the staff knew him and had helped him get home many times. When Police couldn’t find him at his house, the bar staff called to say he’d come back to the bar to spend the stolen money. Another went to the Police station to pick up his friend who’d gotten bail, only for Police to recognise him as the (previously) unknown co-offender on the CCTV footage.

    I guess the point I’m making is that you should never assume someone who would steal a jacket while on camera would have enough judgment to use a fake name on the orders.

    1. Candi*

      There’s one where a guy gets picked up on a warrant. Posts bail, calls a friend to pick him up.

      Guess who else had an active warrant. Yep, the friend.

    2. NYNY*

      I was shopping at a grocery store, and a woman stole a purse, and within a half and hour came back to shop there. One of the other customers joked that the thief would have gone to the Food Emporium but they were too expensive.

  54. Tiger Snake*

    I said it on the first post, and I will say it again: LW is in denial and that’s normal.

    It doesn’t excuse or make the LW’s excuses ‘okay’, but it’s a perfectly natural response for the LW to have. This is a betrayal of the LW’s trust just as much as it is a betrayal to the office and the victim. It feels wrong, it feels discombobulating, and it feels like an attack on the LW’s own character because this is someone they trusted and thought was similar to them.

    Its normal to reject the situation that caused those feelings. Its normal to want to try and find excuses that hand wave it away.

    And it’s good that LW contacted Alison, because it means they’re thinking enough to look for a neutral third party. It means that they were probably able to see all the comments and that those helped the LW come to terms with the fact that; the intern was a victim, their friend did a terrible thing, and the only one to blame for anything is their friend.

    Not the intern, but not the LW either.

    I hope the LW was able to gain peace.

    1. Observer*

      And it’s good that LW contacted Alison, because it means they’re thinking enough to look for a neutral third party.

      Except that that that’s not what the LW asked for. They asked for how to tell their HR that the (former) intern is a liar and that the company should not have offered her a job.

      It means that they were probably able to see all the comments and that those helped the LW come to terms with the fact that; the intern was a victim, their friend did a terrible thing, and the only one to blame for anything is their friend.

      I hope so. Both for the sake of the intern and that of the LW themself.

  55. IsThisThingOn?*

    Repeatedly complimenting someone on their jacket, then waiting until everyone is in a meeting to steal it away to your car, is pretty diabolical behavior. It’s definitely not the first time she’s stolen someone’s things. So for me, even if she is innocent of the fraud, which I’m not totally convinced one way or the other, she’s getting her just desserts. In for a penny, in for a pound.

  56. Lara Cruz*

    I hope the intern eventually found a better place to work where their co-workers are more supportive, instead of that place where she was robbed by another employee and the staff created a conspiracy that she invented the whole thing to “frame” the co-worker.

Comments are closed.