We’ve all been there: Something goes magically missing from your desk or office fridge. When one employee noticed his fruit and other snacks were disappearing from his workspace, he took action, positioning a hidden camera to catch the thief in the act.
The resulting video, which was posted four years ago and has recently reemerged, shows a member of the office’s cleaning staff stealing a piece of fruit off of an employee’s desk. With the culprit identified, the employee changed his computer’s screensaver to read “I know who you are. Stop stealing my things, or I will report you.”
From there, the employee set his computer’s webcam to record all of the activity in his office. Fellow employees, as well as an innocent member of the cleaning staff, found the message entertaining. The guilty party, however, seemed a bit irritated at having been caught.
The video has received more than 4.5 million views to date. Watch it below.
Lunch theft is a serious problem, reports the New York Post. In a survey conducted by online grocer Peapod, 71 percent of workers have reported instances of food theft. And, more glaringly, nearly 40 percent of those polled in urban areas such as New York City have admitted to stealing food.
While the impulse to catch thieves in the act with hidden cameras is a strong one, it’s important to consider company policy. One employee, Ted (last name not given), used a hidden camera to catch a lunch thief while working at a large pharmaceutical company in New Jersey, says the Post. When management discovered his scheme, he was fired.
Workplace rules and regulations, as well as state laws governing filming, can vary drastically. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to avoid any recording where the subject has any expectation of privacy. Clearing any filming with an employer is essential, or you risk the same fate as Ted. For a primer on recording in the office, check out this article from Tech.co.
Stopping a lunch thief without the use of recording devices can be an uphill battle. Jacqueline Whitmore, founder and director of the Florida-based Protocol School of Palm Beach, recommends personalizing your lunch as a way of protecting your property.
“Get a cute travel bag, make your food look like it belongs to someone,” she says.
Similarly, putting your name on your food adds an immediate deterrent.
“That way when someone goes to swipe it they’ll realize that they are stealing from a person with a name and a face versus someone anonymous” says workplace and ethics author Nan DeMars.