Office lunch theft saga is a common workplace woe

Thwarting office lunch theft

The takeaway for lunch thieves is simple: Don’t.

“There are just certain ground rules for how you behave in the workplace,” Schawbel said. “If it’s not yours, don’t touch it.”

To avoid becoming either victim or perpetrator in an accidental theft, Green said, “be careful that whatever you’re taking out of the fridge to eat or trash is actually yours.” Labeling food with your name and the date can help avoid such mishaps.

But labels may not deter a deliberate thief. In offices where there’s a repeat offender, Green said, workers tell her they’ve resorted to buying mini fridges or lunchboxes that lock. Or they take more creative measures.

“I heard from someone who put her food in a brown paper bag and labeled it ‘breast milk,'” she said.

Lunch theft and other office kitchen woes are also a prime case for looping in human resources, she said. They can send a gentle, office-wide reminder or take other actions to address the problem.

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