We’ve collected stories of office-fridge thievery, from the victims themselves—and even one very honest thief.
You’ve been craving that turkey sandwich you stashed in the office refrigerator since your 10 a.m. meeting. But when you return to the shelf where you left it, that sandwich is long gone—the thief didn’t so much as leave a single crumb behind.
If this sad tale sounds all too familiar, there’s a reason: a recent American Express survey revealed that 18 percent of U.S. office workers have copped to eating someone else’s lunch out of the refrigerator. (And those are only the honest survey-takers.) In other words, most of us are working with (hungry) office thieves.
We’ve collected stories of office-fridge thievery, from the victims themselves—and even one very honest thief too.
The Off-Brand Soda Scrounger
“I put a can of off-brand lemon-lime pop in the fridge when I got to work and later it was gone. While I was telling my coworkers about my missing beverage, another coworker walked by drinking a can of Sam's Choice Twist-Up. It wasn't a coincidence.”— Jen S.
The Office Pizza Rat
“Twice a coworker stole my pizza leftovers from the office fridge. I figured out who it was when, after the second theft, I saw him eating my pizza. He claimed that the bag—a reused grocery bag—looked just like the one he always used, though obviously he had not brought food to the office that day—or the previous time he stole my pizza. Needless to say, I never stored anything in the office fridge after that. Oh, and P.S., this is the same guy who, on my first day, I caught him smoking weed in the office bathroom. He was special.” — J.D. M.
Fighting Coke Crime
“When I interned at [a newspaper], I encountered a Coke in the fridge labeled with a Post-It note: ‘This is not your Coke.’ I asked around about it, and apparently there had been an epic battle where a copyeditor brought a Coke in each day and someone stole it nearly every day—just before he wanted to consume it. When I asked why he didn’t simply put ‘Brian’s Coke,’ he said: ‘I wanted everyone who saw it to be certain it was not their Coke.’”— Andy N.
The Creamer Crook
“Countless times my coffee creamer has been used—my personal bottle that I store in the fridge, not the stuff you can find by the coffee pot. In fact, people have used the entire thing and returned the empty container to the fridge. So I decided to attach a passive-aggressive Post-it note thanking the criminal. It read something like, ‘thank you for stealing. It was also nice of you to leave the evidence by returning the empty container to the fridge.’ And now, I store my creamer in my manager’s fridge, which is underneath his desk.” — Tiffani C.
The Case of the Disappearing Sandwich
“It was one of those days: I couldn’t catch a moment to myself, and I kept pushing back my lunch break to get through the next task. By the time I finally made it to the office fridge to scarf down my homemade sandwich—it was about 3:30 p.m.—I was so hungry. So. Hungry. You can see where this is going: my sandwich was no longer in the fridge. I may have cried a little in the kitchen before going back to my desk and ordering from Seamless—which took an hour to arrive.” — Anne T.
The Decoy Lean Cuisine
“My boss at [a store brand], the vice president of marketing, often did not have time to grab lunch, so she kept some Lean Cuisines in the office freezer. But because they were eaten infrequently, she was unaware of when they were being stolen. They were just always gone when she needed them most. But no one ever stole the fish varieties. And with good reason. They were dry and gross. So she bought a salmon Lean Cuisine and would swap out the contents with more tasty options. No one ever stole her Lean Cuisine again.” — Aaron T.
The Cupcake Caper
“Once, I placed a box of cupcakes in our office fridge to take home later to my family. Let me tell you, those cupcakes were expensive, and they were my wife’s favorite. The thief ate all the cupcakes. Every. Single. Cupcake. I had to tell myself that maybe the person was really hungry—and didn’t have money for food—in order to calm myself down. So, I let it slide and I bought my family another box of cupcakes.” — Jason P.
The Salad Sleuth
“I've had numerous items taken from our shared office fridge, from my own carton of milk to entire lunches. But one time in particular stands out: the time my homemade salad went missing. I was furious because I was dieting at the time, and all my lunchtime calories had been carefully counted as part of my eating plan. There's something about having your food stolen that can turn you into an amateur sleuth. So, I did an entire lap of the office trying to nonchalantly look for clues—think: the odd stray salad leaf on the floor, a chunk of boiled egg, crumb here or there. I must have gone around the whole floor at least twice looking for just one clue. Nothing. Then, I had to debate with myself: did I really want to be known as that person—the one who leaves notes or sends angry emails about food? I decided against it. But I can tell you I definitely don’t put stuff in our office fridge anymore.” — Stephanie H.
A Sign You Should Get Out More
“Someone stole my tea the other day! Then I realized I work (from home) alone now—and I just drank it all myself.” — Christina M.
How to Hide Your Guilt
“I was working the early shift, which means I had to be [to work] an hour before everyone else. I happened to check one of the refrigerators, and saw that it had one lone Penn Station sub inside it. Assuming someone must have forgot that it was there, I ate it. Once everyone else got there, though, one of [my coworkers] went nuts yelling about how someone had eaten his sub. I quickly jumped on the bandwagon, saying stuff like, ‘who would do that?’ The sad part was that the sub was really good—but it was a special combination, and I was never able to ask [my coworker] what was in it.” — Brian P.