Is stealing a big issue at work, or just sort of, meh?
December 3, 2012 11:24 AM Subscribe
Theft problem at work creating lack of trust
posted by cartoonella to Work & Money (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a little baffled by my employer's response, or lack of response, to a rash of workplace thefts that have been happening over the past six months. I'm wondering what you think of it, and whether my suggestion that we start random drug testing was out of line.
So everything from computers and microphones, cds and phone charges, have been lifted at my workplace recently. If there's any pattern, it seems that somebody was focusing mostly on gadgets and office supplies at first. So they locked down the studios and rooms that held supplies in the evening. Seemed to work for most things.
Then things out of the kitchen started disappearing - bowls, glasses, crockery. Nothing valuable. Then this person or people got into the basement somehow (which as I understood it is some kind of uber-privileged secret dungeon that only two people on the planet have ever had the key to, so not sure how that happened), and started stealing sealed crates of coffee creamer, napkins and toilet paper, and plastic tableware.
To me, it looks like the pattern of stealing you see with substance abusers. I'm related to a couple of these, so it just screams opportunistic lifting of anything that isn't nailed down for purposes of resale. Especially with the stuff that was sealed in like-new packaging, it seems like this would be great to shop to the convenience store down the street that sells Diet Coke and bongs, you know? Either that or it's a klepto who just wants to steal little stuff for the kicks.
It's really sort of depressing. I bought a tower of burnable cds and forgot to take them home on Friday night - today it's poof, gone. It makes you feel violated. People have gone through my drawers, apparently, and taken weird random items that don't seem like anyone else would really want them. My studio and cabinets have no locks - and they're not paying to get me a locking cabinet. So I've taken to not bringing in stuff I don't want to lose anymore. So far so good. But -
Why no effort to actually resolve the problem, instead of telling us to live with it? I suggested that since the thefts seem to be happening overnight and on weekends, was there any way we could put a spotlight on our evening crew?
Everyone was aghast at that suggestion. "Oh no, that would be profiling!" The overnight guys - board-operators at our radio station - are a nice group of guys (although poor as church mice at their rate of pay) and everyone likes them. So I see their point, but what is this fear of pointing the finger?
Personally, I no longer take thoughtless risks and I do what I can to keep my stuff safe. But I'm annoyed by the lack of response to our concerns. How hard would it be, on the morning after a new theft is reported, to simply:
1) check the electronic keycard records to see who entered the building
2) narrow down the range of possibilities
3) talk to the folks in question and ask for the return of the item
I suggested this in a meeting, and got the response, "Well, but it might not be someone who works here. It could be someone they're inviting in to the building." So I said, "Okay, so if our employees are inviting non-employees into the building overnight and on weekends, maybe we should put a stop to that?" No coherent response.
Cameras have been suggested - everyone balks at that. Invasion of privacy, we're not a prison, etc.
I also mentioned that drug testing might be helpful. It just seems like a reasonable option. Sure, you can't accuse someone who fails a drug test of stealing - without other evidence. But once you've removed them from their job, you don't have to confront them. You've solved the problem tangentially, and without damaging anyone's self-esteem (God forbid).
The workplace is paranoid these days, and I feel squiggy knowing that my studio is regularly being rifled by unseen hands. I don't know who to trust - the person stealing my stuff could be the person I'm yakking with over coffee about all kinds of aspects of my life. I feel my employer is really not taking care of me here. Have I got any sort of grounds, as an employee, for insisting they deal with the issue, or is this something I just have to let go?