COLUMN: What’s the weirdest thing ever stolen from YOU?

From smelly boots to tampons…it seems nothing is safe

People steal the weirdest things.

This week on a local Facebook page a woman posted that overnight someone stole her husband’s work boots.

The boots were placed on a side porch and when the man got up to go to work he didn’t have anything to put on his feet.

It’s hard to imagine wanting someone else’s smelly boots. (Presumable they smelled. Why else would they be on the porch?)

It’s wrong to steal.

But it can at least be hoped the person who took those boots needed them because he or she got a job and is going to be earning money.

Might be awkward though.

Imagine walking into the shop and being tackled by a new co-worker.

HEY! Those are MY boots.

A few years ago in an Ontario newspaper office we dealt with numerous instances of theft.

Someone walked away with a computer, once.

No one broke in and the alarm didn’t go off. Just one day there was a large Apple computer on the desk and the next day there wasn’t.

Half-a-dozen reporters in a newsroom who all supposed themselves to be investigative journalists and nobody knew anything about the missing computer.

Eventually we had to put a lock on the supply cupboard at the same operation. It was a sweet supply cupboard too, stocked with everything you needed to run a business and a lot of things you absolutely didn’t. (The office manager had an obsessive love for the Grand and Toy catalogue.)

We had hundreds of everything – all in different shades of fluorescent. That closet housed more highlighters, sticky notes, photocopier paper, report covers and file folders than the average Staples.

Indeed, it appeared to be where many staffers did their annual back to school shopping for the kids.

So we got a bright pink lock.

The saddest thefts at that publication were carried out in the lunchroom. People’s brown bags frequently went missing.

It was a largish operation, with a 50-person design hub attached to the newspaper proper. Most lunches disappeared during that department’s night shift and the manager was not a sympathetic person.

On one occasion he sent the group a blanket email condemning the pilfering of food, and promising he would track down the perpetrators and they would be fired and possibly face criminal charges.

Not sure how the court would describe that crime. Theft under baloney?

Anyhow he stopped just short of threatening to lop off anyone’s hand.

It’s wrong to steal.

That said, had we paid the designers more than dirt per hour they might have been able to buy their own peanut butter and pudding cups.

Sadder still – and especially after corporate slashed the janitorial budget – the lunchroom fridge was practically a health and safety hazard in its own right.

If the design manager was clever he would have looked for his culprits on his payroll spreadsheet under “sick days.”

Tried to sponsor more regular pizza days and potlucks, after that.

The oddest theft I experienced at a newspaper occurred at a shopper.

So shoppers are the dinosaurs of the publishing industry, nothing but a memory. At one time though, and especially in bigger markets, they were extremely profitable.

These were papers that were delivered free to every home and they contained nothing but display and classified ads.

They were the print version of Craig’s List.

Shoppers also relied heavily on distribution – flyer – revenue, and this particular chain of shoppers specialized in sample delivery.

That is we would deliver free samples along with the newspaper – at hugely premium rates.

Companies used our network to give away everything from CDs, to dish soap and little bottles of juice. We even once executed an addressed delivery of tampon samples.

One Monday morning the sales manager dropped down across the desk and shook his head.

He had something to tell me.

While out with his family, at a large garage sale over the weekend, he recognized one of our 300 carriers.

The carrier was sitting behind a table selling CDs, bottles of dish soap and juice. The tampons were going for $1 a box.

Disappointing to be sure – but one almost had to admire the kid’s entrepreneurial streak.

People steal the weirdest things.

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