Stealing In The Office – An Office Tradition?

Stealing Items From The Office

Have you ever taken something from your office and thought nothing about it? You may be pleased to find out that you are simply one of many people who have stolen items from their employer. In fact, it turns out that stealing is unfortunately quite a common habit.

There have been numerous studies produced that show that UK office workers will happily steal office supplies. Manufacturing company Versapak produced a survey of around 1,500 workers that showed that 27% of people confessed to stealing items, and that half of those people would happily steal again if they knew they would not be caught.

Another survey commissioned by showed that 80% of people who stole took pens. Hardly surprising given that they are small, but other popular items are also USB memory sticks, teabags and even ink cartridges were not safe from sticky fingers!

Perhaps the most surprising number though, and also bizarre, is that 10% of people stole toilet rolls. And this behaviour is not limited to offices in the UK, a similar study by global recruitment agency Kelly Service’s found that nearly one in four Australians had admitted to stealing stationery.

Why Do People Think Stealing is Okay?

Finding out the reasons behind the mindset that stealing from the office is perfectly fine is revealing. One of the reasons is that people think that a small item that carries an equally small price tag is perfectly fine to take, however an item with a higher value turns it into stealing.


Pens and pencils are easy to steal

For example, an AOL Jobs Survey asked people what they thought constituted as stealing in the office. Some of the responses given included that it was only stealing when they took something of value. This corresponds with their survey that found that of the 43% of people who admitted to stealing, most of them only took low valued items.

It takes a rare person to be willing to steal a high value item, most likely because this will also carry a higher risk of being caught with it. After all, a pen is easy to hide in a pocket or a bag, a brand new toner cartridge is not so easily hidden.

Plenty of people will consider the items they have stolen to simply be a perk of their job, or something they can expect to receive due to working there. But as much as people may feel that they are simply ‘owed’ these items if they feel unhappy in their workplace, it is still counted as stealing.

What Are the Consequences?

Taking items from the office can also have consequences for the employees. At the lenient end, it could simply be a fine or a warning that could also become a disciplinary if it continues further. But trust in the employee could be severely diminished after finding out about stealing.

On the more serious end could be an immediate dismissal and for items that are worth more, there is even the chance of being arrested due to breaking the law. Of course, this is entirely at the employer’s discretion though, but it is easy to see that stealing is far more common than you may think!

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Sarah Jubb

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