Does pocketing a pen make you a thief?




A ream of A4 paper because your son needed to print out his project and you’d run out and didn’t have time to stop at Officeworks.

A roll of sticky-tape.

A USB stick.

A packet of Kingstons from the staff kitchen.

A bottle of wine on Friday night (you were the one who stayed behind to clean up – you earned it).


Perks of the job?

Office pilfering?


Last week, ran a story about a German office worker who stole 20 tonnes of office supplies. That’s a lot of paper-clips. And it’s not like he flogged it on eBay. He kept it – under his house. Maybe his kids had a lot of projects coming up. Maybe he was unwell. Maybe he was just a criminal. From

The 69-year-old retired caretaker from Stuttgart stole everything from pencil sharpeners to detergents to office ladders.

After an anonymous tip-off police went to his home and are now working hard to sort through truckloads of office equipment which the worker stole from city offices he had access to while working.

The police said the man did not try to sell any of the items and just hoarded them in his apartment, basement, attic and garden shed.

According to studies an estimated $US50 billion is lost annually from US businesses due to employee theft with a massive 75 per cent of employees stealing from their employers.

Pens and post-it notes are the most commonly pilfered items according to a study by media company Vault.

But employee theft which costs companies billions of dollars every year ranges from pens and envelopes to more “extravagant” items such as lap tops, office chairs and falsifying time sheets and expenses.

So you might not have a truckload of paper-clips under the house but ask around. Most people will admit to taking home something they didn’t pay for and aren’t entitled to. We laugh it off, saying we work so hard we’re entitled to a packet of post-it notes. Who notices anyway? The waste in that place is shocking!

But the bottom line notices and the topic turns business owners purpley red with rage. Because it’s not just physical stuff – personal phone calls can be counted as theft too, ‘I’ll call you from the office so work can pay.’ Sound familiar?

So what is it? A sense of entitlement? A sense that we are underpaid and overworked so these little self-awarded bonuses are okay?

It’s interesting stuff and it seems the bigger the company, the more okay it is. Telstra can afford to lose a yellow highlighter.

What do you think? Is taking home a pen from the office a criminal offence?




More articles