Thieves I Have Known

Every office or shop has one or more, the guy/gal who takes home a roll of Scotch Tape, or a box of pencils.  Working with vinyl sheet and felt, at the auto-parts shop, they used to buy scissors by the case.  A supervisor opined to me that the company would be able to stop buying scissors when every employee had a pair at home.  (I have two pair, plus a couple of part-rolls of duct tape.)

Usually the thefts are small enough not to be noticed, or at least overlooked.  Sometimes though….

I discovered roller-skating as it made a big come-back when I was about 16.  My record was 9 two-hour sessions in one week – every evening, plus Sat. and Sun. afternoons.  I started with rental skates, but, each pair is different, and they’re never Yours.  Soon I wanted to buy my own.  I went to the hardware store in town which sold them.  They had sold out of the shin-high Bauer skates in my size, but had a pair of Dunn’s ankle-high, men’s, white.  I bought them, and never thought about them.  The small towns up north must be more open-minded.  No-one ever commented about me wearing “girls’” skates till I moved here.

The first pair had been the old cone and ball-bearing type wheels.  When I moved to the big city, I decided to get a pair of the new precision-bearing type, which Bauer made right here.  One of the ladies at the Adult Education told me that her neighbor could get me a pair for about half-price.  Go to his house, tell him what size and type, and a week or two later you picked them up and paid cash.

A couple of years later, after graduating, I got a job at the Bauer plant, and found my supplier making hockey blades and, quite coincidentally, his brother-in-law the sole warehouse worker.  Six months after I left, I heard they had both been fired, arrested and charged.

At my next job, at the steel-fab plant, there was also a pair of brothers-in-law, both Turkish.  This was the first time I heard the term “camel-chaser” applied.  They took it as playful razzing, returning “squarehead” to the German co-workers.

One summer they took their wives and kids, all in one station-wagon, to a beach, 90 minutes drive away.  They settled them down on the sand and told them they were going into town for a beer.  They drove back to the city in an hour, parked in front of their baby sitter’s, a block from the house, ran up the street, carefully not attracting attention, and set a fire in the basement of their home.

Then they ran back to the car, raced back to the beach, and spent the day on the sand.  When they returned to a pile of ashes and an insurance claim, late that evening, they were shocked….that people had seen them driving, and running, and heard them talking about returning to the old country.  Sorry guys, not for at least two years less a day, for arson and insurance fraud.

While I was busy making boots, shoes, and slippers, there was a promotions manager from the down-town main plant who used to come out to our warehouse almost every week.  He was responsible for displays in local malls, and at trade shows.  He would show up with a clipboard and a list of styles, sizes and colors, and hand it to the warehouse manager, and later drive away with a trunk-load of footwear.

One day, as he was doing this, a senior executive from main branch was in the warehouse and was intrigued, and started asking questions.  How often does he do this?  How many pairs does he take? Does he provide a project number?  Are these deducted from inventory?  It soon became apparent that the “trade show” he claimed, didn’t exist.  Like my skate supplier above, he was stealing (or having stolen for him) to order.

At the same plant, despite a security guard at the entrance, the two young dopers in the rubber-moulding department used to carry out pairs of winter boots in their backpacks.  They traded them to their dealer for hash, which they brought back and smoked, on the job.  One night, they were so baked that they produced 46 pairs of boots in a row with large holes in them – and never noticed.

At one company, one of the senior maintenance men was the go-to guy for welding.  He used steel flat bars, angles and hollow structural tubing to produce racks and ramps and stands as processes changed, or were added.  He was also responsible for keeping an eye on metal stock, and having it replaced as needed.

His shopping list confused a new purchasing clerk, because the inventory showed hundreds of feet of all material.  An investigation revealed that he had a lucrative home business.  He built trailers – campers, ATV, snowmobile, etc.  He was having the company purchase and pay for, material in excess of their requirements.  He used company time and equipment to cut it to precise size and shape.

He would then take it out the back and pile it on a hardwood pallet, along with undersized, damaged or otherwise “scrap” steel.  This was available to any employee to buy at scrap prices, or even be told, “Just haul it away.”  Since he knew when the pallet was full, he always got first chance at it.  He even used the company forklift to put it in the bed of his pickup, but always returned the pallet for refill.

Have any of you worked with a paper-clip pincher?  Or even worse, one of these?  Are any of you the office paper-clip pincher??!  I still have a 12-foot Lufkin steel tape measure I got 45 years ago at the steel warehouse, along with a fine-tip felt marker which, surprisingly, still labels my coins.  Oops!  😉


15 thoughts on “Thieves I Have Known

  1. Show me a person who claims to never have taken a paper clip home and I’ll show you a liar. We’ve all done it – we’re out of paper at home, it’s late and the kids need to print a school project so we grab a stack of paper, As for bonafide schemes to profit from an employer – haven’t personally encountered it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Archon's Den says:

      Most companies write off the little stuff as the cost of doing business; don’t pay medical benefits? let ’em take a few pens. As for the big stuff, I don’t know whether you’ve been particularly lucky, or I’ve been unlucky. 😯


  2. Dan Antion says:

    Those are some serious criminal enterprises. Sooner or later, they all get caught. I’ve seen a few of those in early jobs and when I was consulting, I was brought in once to figure one scheme out. It’s amazing what people come up with. As for those paper clips, we will not speak of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Archon's Den says:

      I actually surprised myself as I thought back and organised my memories. There doesn’t seem to be a company I worked at that didn’t have at least one significant scheme going on, and it only takes one visitor or new clerk, to send you to jail. 😦


  3. Jim Wheeler says:

    No doubt, petty theft is common culture. Retired now, a four-pack of good quality Papermate pens costs 4 or 5 dollars and lasts me half a year. Mainly crosswords, sudoku’s and the like. But I think there’s a bigger problem, at least down here.

    When my wife was unable to do housework last year we hired a young lady to come in every couple of weeks for a while. I discovered she was accustomed to being paid in cash. The guy who maintains sprinkler systems and the wife’s hairdresser are as well.

    This is more than pens and paperclips. I guess you’d call this the underground economy, maybe. Not to mention income tax, Social Security taxes down here in the States amount to about 15%, half from the worker, half the employer, and then there’s an unemployment insurance tax – not sure how much that is. I think this is huge and probably misleads economists (as if it would make a difference). I wonder what percentage is off the books?

    I heard a pod-cast on tax cheats a few months ago. The problem is international and ubiquitous. In the Philippines, a new tax commissioner has had remarkable success in targeting celebrities. Rich people going to jail occasionally has markedly increased the collections. In the U.K., they said, people of means, on occasion, get letters expressing surprise at the size of their deductions and the small taxes actually paid. They say that works too. Depends on the culture, they say. I wish they would come up with better systems. Messy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Archon's Den says:

      It’s a good thing you’re so cute and cuddly. I could get around to hating a guy who does crosswords in ink.
      This post was about fraud against companies. Your thoughts might inspire one about fraud against the government. Indians with casinos, or selling cigarettes off the res with no taxes, people working “under the table”, steal money which could pay for infrastructure from you and me.
      The fraud inside every government which steals even more money, and justifies such citizens’ actions and attitudes, is subject for yet another, later rant. 🙄


  4. BrainRants says:

    I’ll cop to the occasional pencil and paper clip, yes. I also admit to taking unneeded (the meeting is over) printouts home and using the blank side for copyediting printouts. I call that recycling.


    • Archon's Den says:

      So, there’s no truth to the rumor there’s an Abrams parked behind your place?? 😉
      Recycling printouts?! Wow, even my kid won’t do that. You are Scottish. I met a Dutch salesman today who claimed to be frugal. I told him Scots make him look amateurish. He replied that his Scottish wife had honed his skills. 🙂


  5. benzeknees says:

    I have a thing for pens! If I would find a pen at work I really liked to write with, one would go in my purse so I could use it away from work too! But no, I never took anything noticeable from work because I was in public service for so long.


    • Archon's Den says:

      I used to really like the Bic, medium pens, when they first became available. I press so hard, if I used a fine tip, I carved headstones.
      Sadly, the worst of the theft in public service occurs at the top. Use your pen and write down, Patrick Duffy, Pamela Wallin – and that Frog who’s a bouncer at a strip club now. 😦


  6. You seem to ignoring the fact that in 2012 robberies accounted for $139 million dollars in losses while wage theft was estimated to account for $280 million in losses (US department of labor). If you get caught stealing from your boss, you’re going to jail. Your boss gets caught stealing for you, they may have to pay you the wages you already earned. If you get lucky.


    • Archon's Den says:

      I wasn’t ignoring it. I’m aware it happens and may eventually post a rant about it. This tale was just a recounting of personal recollections. The tone of your comment makes it sound as if it’s somewhat personal to you. I can sympathise, as can many others. I was fired, and had two days of pay penalized, for two, ten-dollar accounting errors, which, neither of two supervisors noticed or corrected. Fair is where you take your pig, to have him judged. 😦


      • I’m sure you know it is/was illegal for your former employer to make such deductions for said error. I hope that you found some remedy for their actions. May I enquire of your occupation?


      • Archon's Den says:

        This occurred over 50 years ago at a Royal Bank of Canada branch. Somewhat like General Motors, they are just TOO BIG to QUESTION. Without the backing and testimony of the Assistant Manager and/or the Chief Accountant, neither of whom was going to admit to incompetence through my lack of training and supervision, the bank would have had good grounds for an embezzlement charge. I cut my losses, and learned a lesson.
        Since then, I have been a Production Clerk, a Buyer, an Expeditor, a Purchasing Agent, a Materials Manager, a Salesman, a Security Guard, a Press Operator, first at a boot/shoe plant, then at an auto-parts plant. I ended with a couple of years as a Material Handler at a shipping company, and have been quietly retired for several years. 🙂


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