6 Types of Office Supply Thieves and How to Handle Them
If you love office supplies like we do, then you know what it feels like to have a coworker take your favorite pen or borrow your stapler and never return it. I have encountered all of these office supply thieves in both my career as a teacher and my career in an office. Here are ways to handle the six types of office supply thieves:
The Accidental Acquirer
She doesn’t even know she is a thief. She unconsciously grabs a pen off your desk to jot a quick note, walks off with it, and sticks it in her pen cup, all the while never knowing what she has done. She may realize at some point that she has a pen that is not hers. If she does, she will bring it back and apologize profusely. Or, she will never realize it, use the pen all the time, and remain completely oblivious as you give her the stink eye for pilfering your favorite pen.
How to get your stuff back: Just ask her nicely. She will return it immediately.
The Borrowing Buddy
This person always asks to borrow your stuff. He is your friend so you say yes. He uses your favorite red stapler, then conveniently forgets to give it back. Unlike the accidental thief, the borrower knows what he is doing.
How to get your stuff back: The only way he will ever return it is if you ask him about it. He will then pretend that he forgot to give it back. He did not forget. He hoped you would. However, once confronted, he will give it back.
The Sneaky Stealer
She hangs around your cubicle often. She waits for you to step away from your desk, then she strikes to swipe one of your Post-it notepads. She ran out, and didn’t want to deal with asking for some, or waiting until she could purchase more. If you confront her, she will pretend that you are crazy and tell the whole office, “Why would I steal Post-it notes? Who does that?”
How to get your stuff back: Steal it back. I suggest the Blatant Bandit method. See below.
The Blatant Bandit
The blatant bandit finds victims who she knows are too nice to call her out on her bad behavior. She will grab something off of your desk as you sit in your chair, dumbfounded. She may even announce–not ask–announce, that she is taking the item. As she grabs your notepad she states, “I’m taking your notepad, thanks!” and walks off like nothing has happened.
How to get your stuff back: Grab it off her desk and say, “I need this back, thanks!” and walk off as if nothing has happened.
The Finders-Keepers Fiend
It happens. You leave your notebook behind at a meeting. You return to retrieve it, only to find that it is not on the conference table where you left it. You have been a victim of the finders-keepers fiend. He believes that anything left out is fair game. He will take it and not think anything of it. When you ask the office if anyone has seen your notebook, he will act like he has no idea what you are talking about.
How to get your stuff back: You can’t. You probably won’t know who stole it, and even if you figure it out, he will hide the stolen object. For revenge you can steal something of his to make yourself feel better.
The Passive-Aggressive Plunderer
She shows up to a meeting without a pen to take notes. She sees that you have a couple of pens next to your notebook. Instead of asking to borrow one, she says, to no one in particular, “if I had brought two pens to the meeting, I would ask if anyone else needed to use one.” You begrudgingly hand her one of your pens. When you ask for the pen back at the end of the meeting, she says, “oh, here you go. I forgot that you don’t make as much money as I do, so I guess you need to hang on to your pens.” She hopes that you will become embarrassed enough about your lowly salary to let her keep the pen.
How to get your stuff back: Go aggressive-aggressive. Don’t let her borrow anything, and if you do, demand it back. She won’t know how to handle direct confrontation.
How many of these types work in your office or school? How do you handle these office supply thieves? Let us know in the comments.