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!  😉