There’s a 1 in 5 Chance Your Cubemate Steals Lunches From the Office Fridge

You got to work early today — you have a tight deadline to meet. As your lunch break approaches, your stomach twists and turns, causing you immense pain.

Staring at the sad banana on the left side of your desk, you think,“This just won’t do.”

Suddenly, your stomach is growling so loudly that your co-worker to your right is giving you intense side-eye. Your body breaks into a cold sweat.

Within seconds, you make a serious dash toward the office kitchen.

You think of the delicious leftover baked ziti that awaits you, salivating. That ziti is a microwavable token of happier times that will take you far, far away from your dusty cubicle, if only for your 0-minute lunch break.

You open the fridge, ready to grab your tin of food. You wrote a heart next to your name on the container in black sharpie this morning. Robert ❤️

But the heart wasn’t enough to keep your food safe. After rummaging through the entire refrigerator, you realize your food is gone.

It has been lost — again — to the Office Lunch Bandit.

R.I.P., beloved baked ziti.

Survey Says 18% of Your Co-Workers are Terrible People

Maybe this has happened to you once or twice — or maybe a dozen times, depending on where you work.

If so, you aren’t alone.

American Express OPEN surveyed over 1,000 employees and found that 18% admitted to stealing someone else’s lunch from the company fridge.

The numbers are unsettling. You might be looking around your office as you read this, wondering whom you can trust — and whom you can’t.

“To think that nearly 1 in 5 of my co-workers is a sociopathic monster is appalling,” says Alex Mahadevan, data journalist at The Penny Hoarder.

The Office Lunch Bandit is ruining more than just your food routine. They’re also ruining your budget.

According to CNBC, a co-worker stealing your lunch can cost you big.

Not only do you lose the average $6.30 in groceries in your lost lunch, but you’re also out the average $11.14 you’ll spend on a replacement takeout meal.

If the Office Lunch Bandit were to steal one of your lunches every month for a year, that will add up to you losing around $210 total, CNBC reports.

I don’t know about you, but that’s enough money down the drain to make me feel like this:

What Do We Do About Office Lunch Thieves?

What’s the deal? Are people stealing lunches out of desperation?


The survey doesn’t say. But the internet pipes in with some interesting theories.

An article from NPR reports that most people do it out of hunger — and some think they aren’t stealing, but merely borrowing.

Another reason? Some people feel entitled to the food in the company fridge.

But thinking about the hundreds of dollars lost to sneakily swiped lunches, something must be done.

“Maybe [we should] make them wear a sandwich board that says ‘I STEAL LUNCHES’ near the fridge at lunchtime for a week,” says Mahadevan.

Lisa Rowan, writer and producer at The Penny Hoarder, takes a more sensible approach and suggests banning Office Lunch Bandit from the company fridge completely.

If you’re the one stealing lunches, take note: People probably hate you.

Not sure how to pack a lunch of your own? Check out these tips on how to bring your own healthy food to the office.

As for the rest of us, it’s time to get some locks for our lunchboxes.

Kelly Smith is a junior writer and engagement specialist at The Penny Hoarder. Catch her on Twitter at @keywordkelly.