Man calls cops on office refrigerator thieves after Jell-O goes missing

| October 23, 2013

A Pennsylvania man recently brought in law enforcement to target his sticky-fingered coworkers. Having discovered his strawberry-flavored Jell-O was stolen from the office refrigerator, the 39-year-old man called the cops to report his missing snack. According to the Upper Macungie Township Police Department, the crime took place at the Wakefern Food Corporation warehouse in Beinigsville, PA.

office refrigerator

Jell-O snacks prove to be easy to sneak away from a communal office refrigerator. From Steven Depolo.

The incident, which is still under investigation, is not the first, according to the “victim.” The report on file with the police department states, “The employee continued that this was not the first time that his food had been stolen from the refrigerator.” (And it’s certainly not the wildest phone call emergency workers have ever received. As the Huffington Post reported, earlier this year a man in Indiana called 911 a whopping nine times to order a cheeseburger.)

For certain employees among us — and most workplaces have them — the communal office refrigerator is less a chilly, temporary holding space and more an open food market. While every office worker has his or her own preferences, pre-packaged and odorless snacks like Jell-O are easy to grab and consume on the go. (When was the last time someone stole day-old curry or leftover seafood?)

What you can do to prevent office refrigerator theft

office refrigerator

Your coworkers are unlikely to steal your leftovers, but the man’s Jell-O snacks weren’t so lucky. From Quinn Dombrowski.

Whether you happen to find swiping other people’s food a downright tempting or despicable habit, there are several practices you and your coworkers can adopt on the job to prevent food theft and keep the fridge a friendly place in the workplace. (And no, calling the cops doesn’t make the list.)

Some of the top tips? Work with colleagues to agree on a list of rules that everyone can adhere to willingly. Then, post a sign listing your office’s fridge etiquette. Some suggestions for office kitchen and break room fridges include: 1) Store items properly. 2) Close the refrigerator door. 3) Clean up spills as they happen.

Labeling your items is another key to preventing lunch thefts. Label your own containers, Jell-O cups, and other food items, and consider encouraging others to do the same so that nothing is inadvertently eaten. (C’mon, you knew those sticky labels would come in handy someday.)

Feel free to use humor, too: One woman in Ft. Lauderdale, FL grew so tired of salad dressing thieves that she began storing her dressing in a container labeled “medical specimen.” The Houston Chronicle recommends setting up a schedule for cleaning the fridge, as well as sharing space by leaving room enough for coworkers’ foods. If you have a suspect in mind, Jacqueline Whitmore, who runs The Protocol School of Palm Beach, suggests disarming the suspected snacker with a dose of humor. As she told the Sun Sentinel, “’Wasn’t that strawberry yogurt delicious?’…You’re trying to add humor without pointing a finger.”

Of course, if you’re dealing with repeat offenses and still have no clue as to who is feasting on your foodstuffs, you might consider taking disciplinary action. Expert Eric Gordon, a labor lawyer and former president of the Human Resource Association of Palm Beach County, suggests reporting the thefts to management. “If an incident happens, then the company needs to deal with it,” Gordon told the Sun Sentinel. “Not just blow it off that it’s somebody’s lunch.”

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Category: New Products, Office courtesy

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