Hands Off My Food: 3 Ways to Fight Lunch Theft at Work

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By: Meredith Witthar | Jimmy Rhoades Posted: 4:56 PM, May 17, 2018 Updated: 2:04 PM, Jul 5, 2018

A tweet about lunch theft just went viral – and most of us can relate. A recent survey found that 18% of workers have eaten someone else’s lunch. We spoke with University of Texas psychology professor Art Markman to take a closer look at lunch theft.


1. Extreme Swiping


Lunch theft is a real thing, people! And this recent Twitter update is proof: “Co-worker got his lunch stolen, and [they’ve] agreed to let him watch the security camera tape.” Ha! Art says lunch thieves eat those swiped sammies with a heaping side of rationalization: “In that moment, you sort of dehumanize the lunch. You look at it; you think well, I need this more than that person does in the moment.”


Another extreme swipe came from Texas when police caught one of their own with surveillance video. “We do often do things where we feel like I could get away with this, right? Nobody drives the speed limit,” insists Art.


2. Lunch Theft Costs


Lunch theft costs real money! Whether it’s restaurant leftovers, or a homemade sandwich, someone paid for that dinner or those groceries. And now they have to spend more money to buy another lunch. Plus, there’s the mental cost of feeling creeped out in your own office – and you want to be able to trust your neighbors! “It not only affects things like whether I’m going to bring my lunch into work,” explains Art. “It starts affecting things like, should I do this extra favor for my colleague? Are they actually going to turn around and do something for me when I need it?”


3. Keep It Safe


The best way to thwart food-pilfering is to keep it safe. Try masking your lunch with doggie bags to scare people off! A couple of our favorites read “Mostly Meatballs” and “Budget Sushi”— so appetizing, right? You can buy these paper bags on Amazon here. Plastic sandwich bugs will also do the trick. Fake people out by making your lunch appear to be covered in mold or insects! Buy the fake mold bag here, and the bug bag here.

Fighting sticky fingers at the office? Now you’ve got three ways to taking a swipe at lunch theft!







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