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How to Deter the Office Food Thief

Deterring the Lunchtime Thief...

We’ve all been there, a little trip to the fridge - looking forward to your strawberry yoghurt for your mid-morning snack only to find it’s vanished. Poof. Gone.

Why? Why? WHY?!

And this isn’t the first time it’s happened. Only last week someone decided to just finish off your favourite cereal in spite of the fact that the box literally had your name on it. I mean, right there – written on the box, in Sharpie! Yes - Sharpie!!!

Sharpies mean business and yet this was blatantly ignored. You can see it now, them just smugly devouring that crunchy, sweet goodness. It makes you sick.

Favourite Cereal

AHHH! Why do people do this?! Let’s just take a minute to calm down and delve into the psyche of the common office thief - what compels a fully grown adult to steal another’s food?

Here are the top reasons why someone might be stealing your food:

  • As a passive aggressive action towards you specifically as revenge or punishment for something you may have done or that has happened to you for example, you got a pay rise and they didn’t.

Passive Aggressive

  • Human nature plays a big part in compelling someone to commit a petty act such as food theft. Studies have shown that if there’s no chance of getting caught breaking a rule then we’re highly likely to permit ourselves to break the rules. Of course we all have limits, so the rule breaking will vary from stealing a couple of sweets from a co-worker to having an affair.
  • Psychological distress could drive a person to take something as a loss substitution. For example, when a relationship ends, a person might turn to overeat for comfort and to replace the loss they feel with something else. Some might steal as a substitute for the loss they’re experiencing whether that’s a break up or missing out on a work opportunity.

Lucky for you, we’ve been doing our research and have sourced for you the top seven ways to deter these food thieves forever.

1. Leave a passive aggressive note to the food thief such as:

“Hope you enjoyed ALL the ingredients of my sandwich”

This guy’s note was kind of successful, not only did he become an internet sensation by documenting his lunchtime quarrel but also successfully caught the culprit with the help of HR:

Note To Thief

2. If notes aren’t your ‘thing’ you could always label your food with some kind of ominous message for example,

“Grandpa’s Special Sandwich”

or simply write

“I’ve sneezed on this”

3. Send an email to the whole office explaining the unwritten rules of the office kitchen. You can be whiny or patronising or angry, just make sure you get your message across clearly: Labelled food is not ‘up for grabs’ to anyone.

Horrible Moldy Sandwich

4. Invest in some of these brilliant anti-theft lunch bags, or create your own using a clear sandwich bag and colouring splodges on the outside of the bag using a green (non-toxic) felt tip.”

5. Back date the label on your food so people won’t lay their grubby thieving hands on it thinking it’s out of date.

Out Of Date Food

6. Is there a food item that you find is being singled out and constantly taken? For me, it was my strawberry yoghurt. One tried and tested way to seek revenge on the greedy yoghurt bandit is to carefully unseal the yoghurt top, pour out the yoghurt, fill with chilli mayonnaise and reseal. The yoghurt bandit will be hastily tucking into your yoghurt when they find their mouth is met by a fiery savoury surprise. They certainly won’t return to raid the fridge anytime soon.

You Ate My Sandwich?

7. If you catch the culprit you can confront them head on. Just remember - don’t lose your head it’s just a sandwich. However, if they continue to steal yours or others food…you have our permission to get a little angry and report them to HR!

Don't Lose Your Head

Unfortunately the common fridge thief is sometimes undefeatable, their persistence is admirable but irritating. So if these deterrents are unsuccessful you could always resort to locking your food away in your draw under your desk, or bring in a cool bag lunch box to hide your food away.

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