Missing Food

[font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 06-30-08 AT 09:57PM (CST)[/font][br][br]Periodically, we have reports of missing food from the refrigerator.

A few weeks ago, we had a team member mention to their manager that they saw someone in the refrigerator rummaging around. The individual allegedly went to the bathroom after taking the food and came out with disposable towels covering the food.

We talked to the person's manager about the allegation. She stopped by her team member's desk later that day and noticed several of the disposable towels in her wastebasket.

She addressed the issue with the team member by not accusing her but by indicating that a concern had been raised by someone and asked for her input.

Long story short, the manager (who believes this individual is a good worker and thought the accusation was off the mark until she saw the wastebasket), got the impression that her team member wasn't telling the truth during their conversation. She denied it and was more interested in whether others had heard about it and if we had surveilance. The approach we took was more that sometimes food may not be labeled in the refrigerator and to advise that we may be able to help at times if someone is in need (pb & j) if they let us know they forgot their lunch/dinner that day but they need to let us know as we keep it in another area.

We thought that would be the end of it but apparently it's not. We once again have missing food and she's been seen in the vacinity around the time it's been reported.

Your advice on the next step? We are reluctant to set up surveilance as it goes against our company culture.


  • 8 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • We periodically have the same problem. It seems to come and go and I never really get any good leads.

    In your case since you have a good suspect, is it possible when this person leaves their workstation for a break that someone could "tail" her? Very discretely of course. It could be a trusted group leader or supervisor..... Just thinking out loud.
  • It may go against your culture,but it may be worth it to find out if you have a thief among you. It will quickly go from food to riffling thru co-workers desks and/or purses.

    You don't technically have to put in a "nanny cam" or whatever. You could simply post a notice. "This breakroom may be subject to electronic surveillance".

    We've had issues like this in our office. We recently had a situation where cash was stolen from a physician's purse (twice) . She had it secured in a cabinet with a door in a fairly visible area. We had our suspicions on who the culprit was. This person was terminated for falsifying time and guess what....no more money was stolen.

    We are, however, looking into surveillance in our clinical areas to ensure we don't still have a thief (or another one) among us.

  • I guess my question is how "periodically" does the food dissappear? If its every couple months, you will probably never catch the thief.

    If its weekly, you could probably stash some decoy items (bags of cookies, yoghurt, wrapped sandwhiches) and check them periodically to determine when items disappear. Do your ee's work in shifts? You could cross reference the times of missing items with who was working that day.

    Now all of this may be more work than you want to do but personally I find this kind of stuff highly entertaining. Like solving a mystery.

    Plus, I really dislike people who steal.
  • An ee once put exlax in a sandwich and left it for a decoy for the thief.
  • Years ago, we had a problem with food disappearing from a refrigerator in a breakroom that was specifically only used by employees of our department. We all respected what the others who worked in our area kept in there, but then the boss noticed that his food started going missing on a regular basis. We couldn't figure out who might be doing it, but since none of us ever saw anybody else there during working hours, we began to suspect the cleaning people. One evening the boss happened to go in the breakroom after normal working hours, where he found an employee from another department, who worked a slightly later shift than everyone else and shouldn't even have been in our area at all, helping herself to his food. When he asked her what she was doing, she claimed she thought that the food in that particular fridge was left there for everybody to help themselves to. Since at that time we did provide things like hot chocolate mix, microwave popcorn, and a few other food items for our employees, she wasn't disciplined for it and it was treated like a simple misunderstanding, but my take on it was, if she thought the food was there for everybody, why did she always wait until after she thought everybody in our department was gone to sneak in there and help herself?!
  • I have dealt with similar situations in the past. Unless you catch someone in the act, there is really nothing you can do. Although, what possibly could help is putting a sign on the refrigerator door that says 1) employees should clearly mark their containers/bags with their names; and 2) "The food in the refrigerator is the property of the person who brought it; taking someone else's food is theft and may result in termination and prosecution." Such a sign would clear up any belief that the food is for everyone and, possibly, cause the thief to at least think about his/her actions.
  • How about a sign that read:

    "Please, no sharing of food until the outbreak has been contained."
  • From time to time we've had food missing from the fridge. However, you can leave $.50 on the kitchen counter and it will stay there for weeks!
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