Office worker stole 20 tonnes of office supplies

by Stephanie Zillman17 May 2013

While more than two-thirds of employees admit to swiping office stationery for use at home, not too many would be able to match the 20 tonnes of office loot stolen over three decades uncovered in Stuttgart, Germany.

After an anonymous tip-off, a 69-year old council retiree was found to have swiped everything from pens and paper to detergents and office ladders – all from an array of council offices he had access to during his tenure as a caretaker.

Police searched the man’s home and found truck-loads of supplies strewn throughout his apartment, shed and basement. Curiously, police reported the man did not attempt to sell any of the supplies, but appeared to simply be hoarding them.

According to a recent survey of more than 2,000 employees by MassMutual, the most frequently taken items are, not surprisingly, pens, pencils and highlighters – by 75% of employees!

Others on the list of the most-pilfered products included:

  • plants and flowers (18%)
  • furnishings such as paintings, chairs, desks (believe it or not), and lamps (14%)
  • clients (11%)
  • business associates (7%)

Why do workers steal?

A third said they were “borrowing” and planned to return the item, while 25% didn't think their employer would “miss” the items. A further 27% said it was “easier” than buying their own, and 24% said they “didn't have time” to purchase their own.

COMMENTS

  • by Bernhard Racz 19/05/2013 12:27:11 PM

    I ran a tourist office/safety house/express coach depot years ago, setting it up as a service paid out of our own pockets through another business. We accepted an employee via the local Centrelink (recommended) office, but within 6 months finances started reversing, so I did a stocktake one night between midnight and 5am, then again a week later, (after the 'person' had 'opened and closed' the shop/business each day. She had been taking on average $600 a day from the till, and was also clearing out hundreds of dollars in stock (drinks, cigarettes, videos etc) when she went home each night. We sacked her.

  • by Salih Mujcic 21/05/2013 11:28:42 AM

    We should probably also be worried about the other 25% who did not respond to this survey. One only needs to look at the case of the fake Tahitian prince in Queensland Australia to understand that a certain proportion of the population will be motivated to engage in these counterproductive behaviours should the opportunity present it self.

    We need to be a little more proactive in identifying these more serious offenders and test their integrity with pre-employment assessments. Psychometric tools are a cost effective risk mitigation strategy. Better to be safe than sorry.

    Often we only find out when it's too late.

  • by Salih Mujcic 21/05/2013 3:46:05 PM

    We should probably also be worried about the other 25% who did not respond to this survey. One only needs to look at the case of the fake Tahitian prince in Queensland Australia to understand that a certain proportion of the population will be motivated to engage in these counterproductive behaviours should the opportunity present it self.

    We need to be a little more proactive in identifying these more serious offenders and test their integrity with pre-employment assessments. Psychometric tools are a cost effective risk mitigation strategy. Better to be safe than sorry.

    Often we only find out when it's too late.