Someone at work is eating my lunch on a regular basis - how can I get back at them without getting in trouble

As title suggests someone at work is eating my lunch 2-3x a week. Yes I put a name tag on my food, both on the plastic bag and then on the lunchbox. This theft almost always occur 99% of the time I get takeaway such as a sushi box or some kind of takeaway. Other times they'll look in my lunch box and nick parts of my lunch such as my chobani yoghurt or up and go other prepackaged snacks.

The higher-ups won't let me view CCTV and they said they'll investigate and despite reporting it in early December, it's been happening again shortly after the Christmas/New Years break. Friends have suggested putting unbearably hot spices or laxatives or something to mess with them but I have the feeling I'd get in trouble.

Any suggestions?

update: i will go with a really hot sauce and put it in one of my lunches, thanks for the ideas guys :) Will let you know how it goes
update 2: purchased hot sauce as someone suggested in the comments from the chilli factory, will keep you updated


  • +287

    Just say the laxatives were meant for yourself!

    • +for me.

      • +1

        How about setting up a mouse trap?

    • +20

      just play the victim. your lunch is getting stolen.

      • Oh yes, this all the way

      • +3

        And you really needed that laxative!

      • +12

        If you play the victim card do not whine too much, or they will hate you as much as the thief.

        BTW whoever is taking your lunch might not like you for whatever reason and they might not be eating the lunch. Could be trolling you and throwing it away.

        Are they stealing only your food? Could you ask a friend at work if you could put their name on it, instead of yours? If more than one lunch is being stolen, ask them to report as well, the more reports of theft the better chance you have that something will be done.

        Other than that you could put your food in a suitable container and I suggest something like "Sharps Container Biohazard Needle Disposal bin." It is on sale for $7.75, a bargain.…

        and a bigger size:…

        • +2

          The sharps bin is a terrible idea.. OP would be hauled in to HR immediately!

        • +3

          Hahaha! You can't put that in a workplace fridge!!! People will freak!

        • @scubacoles: Just trying to make his point with the bin.

        • +1

          What if someone puts their syringe in his lunchbox?

        • +2

          @voolish: Sometimes you have to needle people to get things done.

        • +1

          good point.

    • +28

      syrup of ipecacif you're feeling sadistic maybe?

      see results

      may get you in trouble also.

      • +14

        LOL, +10 for this. Not only would you get your own back but you would be able to isolate who the culprit is. I don't see it likely that the culprit would be able to dob you in without dobbing themselves in: "I became violently ill after eating xxxx's lunch…" Just make sure you don't send them to hospital, lol.

    • +9

      Pls update us on how you went OP :)

    • +35


      • +2

        Thats a bit stiff.

    • +4

      Did this in my uni days to a freezer thief. Just to cover myself i rang up the hotline number on the packet and apparently they will suffer server dehydration. I was happy with this result.

      • +8

        Nothing worst than when your servers dehydrate.

    • +1

      mix this with Carolina reaper

    • +8

      Go to your doctor and tell him you have severe constipation, and ask to be prescribed a very strong laxative. Take a sick day off, and let your supervisor know it was for constipation, but ask them not to disclose to others, because of the sensitive nature of the illness.

      That way you have a legitimate reason to put an epic amount of laxatives into your food, and it will be backed up with paperwork and a witness. There is noway HR can pry any further than that.

    • +2

      Do this for sure, its what I did!

      Load up the sandwich with mixed in laxative!!!!
      No warnings, no labels other than very clearly marked lunch box/lunch bag with your name on it.

      Mix it in real good. The person may not realise he got the runs from your sandwich though, so you may need to do it one or two more times.
      Then like magic, they will never touch your lunch again.

      And to be 100% sure they never touch your food again, get a lunchbox made of metal- and lock it!
      Here's a funny one :)…

      • +14

        Another option would be to set up a trap. Are you within earshot of the lunch room?
        A metal lunchbox with some common household items to set off a pizzo buzzer would work a treat. It'll be loud, it'll scare the hell out of whoever is doing it, and it'll let you know who it is too!

        When others ask what/who etc. tell them this is the person who's been eating everyone's lunch!

        Items needed.

        Clothes peg
        Aluminum foil
        A 9v Battery
        A cheap buzzer from Jaycar (a couple of bucks)
        Some wire
        Some fishing line
        Some cardboard
        And some superglue.

        1) Wrap both opening tips of the peg with foil (separately). This will be your switch.
        2) Place a small piece of cardboard right at the very end of the peg, so its just holding the cardboard.
        3) Attach fishing line to cardboard, and the other end to the top of the lunch box- inside near the front opening… so as lunch box is opened this will pull cardboard away from peg. Attach the fishing line with superglue to the lunchbox.
        4) Solder/wrap two separate wires onto each side of the peg, in a way where they don't touch. The only way to complete the circuit is when cardboard is removed.
        5) One wire goes to the battery.
        6) The other wire goes to the buzzer.
        7) One more wire connects the buzzer and the battery completing the circuit.
        8) Mount all these items into the lunchbox with glue, and set your trap :).
        9) To encourage the thief to open it, make sure you have it weighted properly (with bread or lollies or whatever).

        And wait.

        The thief will set off the buzzer and you'll not only know who it is, but teach them NOT TO STEAL!
        No way you can get in trouble for it, because you are stopping a THIEF in the office.
        If he's hitting you 2-3 a week, he's hitting someone else for the other days.

        A video camera in the corner to record it all would be a bonus ;).

        And step 10), the most important step… would be to update us all here.

        I hate criminals.

        • +11

          Whoa there Batman

        • @AlmostCromulent: Huh? Step 10 is essential.

        • or ask your local bank if they have any spare explosive blue ink packs like they put in briefcases in the movies

    • -1

      that's a cr@p idea

    • Did that at a backpackers years ago in sydney after some pommy git kept on stealing folks booze in the room, wasnt overly thought-out plan as he kept on waking everyone up everytime he needed to use the toilet in the middle of the nite :D

  • +2

    Get a small safebox/cashbox and hope they don't steal the whole box instead…

  • +30

    Chili on everything.

    • +3
    • +4

      If you can get one of these bad-boys on your food, then you'll find out who took your food.

      • +19

        A good suggestion.
        Then remove the seeds and the white pithe which holds most of the heat. Using the flat side of a knife, lightly crush the seeds so that the juices are able to escape.
        Using a tooth-pick carefully push the seeds and pithe into the food, sit back and wait. Unlike wasabe, there is no sign it is there or what is about to happen until it is too late. These can cause blisters in the mouth and near immediate diarrhea.

        If you get busted, explain it away by saying "I like spicy food"

        Wash your hands three times with soap and water. If you touch your face with the chilli juice seed it can cause blisters

        • +3

          Best to use surgical/latex gloves when dealing with chillies this hot :)

        • +1

          I would always be worried about what would happen to your lunch in the fridge after this episode? Would they then reverse engineer something similar to your future food?

    • +5

      This is the answer OP. Combine with the spy pen and youtube for best results.

      • +8

        This is a perfect example of people with no vested interest giving bad advice. If you put chilli etc on your food, what do you think he will start doing to your food, perhaps everyday? Do you want to be worried that your food has been tampered with each time you eat? Whatever you do, the guy will be pissed off. A lockable box or bag might work.

        • +8

          You think after it's revealed who the culprit is that they will be allowed to get away with tampering with other peoples lunch?

        • +10

          That's why laxative is the better option. They won't know it is in the food when eating it, unlike chilli.

        • +5



          And make sure the sand which contains something that could go "off" - that way they will assume the meat or egg salad etc went bad and caused the fiery anus

    • Chilli is too obvious. I would smear my lunch on something super dirty the night before so they would get severe food poisoning.

      Would be pretty easy to figure out who it is after that.

    • A lot of people here recommended Carolina reapers, which is hottest Chili in the world. Some also said wasabi.
      But you should first try to find out who this guy is, and where he eats Ur food. Use spy cam or something.

      To set it up, u bring two meals, one for u, one for the trap.
      In where he usually eats, put some drink, that will exaggerate the spiciness, like cold vinegar…

      Make sure u lock the toilets, kitchen tap, etc.

      If he doesn't steal Ur food again, it probably because he died… Rip.

  • +56

    Keep going back to the higher-ups, every time this happens. Eventually, they will get the message that the problem isn't going away. Suggest to them that they view the CCTV, and deal with the problem (e.g. warn the culprit to stop); you do not need to know who it is. This way, they may be more willing to do so.

    • +14

      +1. Would put in a report form/send email/whatever every single time it happens. Take photos of your lunch when you put in the fridge, and then when you open it, etc.

      They may think it was a couple of times thing and you are over-reacting, but if you show them exactly how often it is happening they will have to take action.

      If you had someone taking money from your drawer or wallet a couple of times a week they would be acting, so I don't see how this is any different.

      • +16

        And after 3-5 reports with no action, move one level up the management chain.

        Keep the lower manager/s still on the list, and keep a running count of how many thefts have happened since the reporting.
        When the CEO gets an email showing that every level down failed to respond to 3+ reports, and your lunch has now been stolen over 20 times, something will happen. Or if nothing happends, then it's the CEO stealing it, so you should get a new job!

        • Pretty sure something will happen, even from just the level above, if they knew these are not isolated incidents.

        • -2

          @bluesky: The logic in all this 'reporting' and 'report more until it solves itself' type stuff I can't comprehend.

          Every time you tell a manager, you are telling yet another person skilled in the art of stealing lunches and shirts, etc. that there is food worth stealing in the fridge.

          I wouldn't mind betting that the original culprit (no doubt someone that worked long hours beyond the opening hours of the local shops or was too scared to go out to buy food), is long gone and now it is just managers beating each other to your food (and bringing their own chilli).

        • @zerovelocity: This is why you move up the chain… It's unlikely to be a corporate-wide conspiracy. And if it is, you're better off leaving (or sue them for workplace bullying!)

        • @abb: Yep, indeed. And ahh, finally a real reason to take a promotion other than reducing the sheer number of douche bags… lol

          But we all know that when we join them, we become them. Besides, I've never much liked the kind of shit people put in the fridge for lunch.

          Perhaps if I was more megalomaniacal, I'd do it for the power kick like they may be.

        • @zerovelocity:
          I'd eat their lunch in front of them and make om nom nom noises for a bigger kick.

        • @zerovelocity: Agree. How would OP know if all he is doing is only reporting it to the thief himself/herself?

    • +5

      If they don't do something, bring then a bill for all the items that have been taken. It's theft, and if they won't stop it, it's their fault

    • Better to involve the higher ups in a the ultimate payback day way

      • +3

        The biggest problem is the person may not just be a lunch thief, but is actually targeting you in particular.

        Had a similar problem at my workplace about 5 months ago and had security add a surreptitious camera away from the lunch area but covered the fridge enough to see. The whole office is under surveillance due to the nature of our work. A person who had been known to make life difficult for a few particular staff turned out to be the culprit.

        The point being there is is probably more than a free lunch involved here!

  • +7

    Spy camera. You can get a cheap spy pen and point it at the fridge. Take the pen home with you each night and watch through if someone has stolen from you again.

    Stuff management - go to the prick directly and confront them.

    • +1

      how do you suggest hiding a pen so it is not stolen?

      • Take another plastic container. Put someones name on it. drill a hole and put the camera so it can see outside. Place it right behind yours inside the fridge. Check the operating temperature to make sure whether the camera would operate at 4 degrees before doing it.

  • +1

    a fridge on your desk?

  • +5

    Chili….lots of it… for the person frantically running around in search for water…point at him/her and say AHA!

    • +5

      Offer the culprit more water so the taste buds are exposed and it continues to burn. Ie Never use water to treat excess chilli burn, use bread or fruit.

      • +6

        Milk/yogurt works better for me

        • Agree

        • +1

          I think Mythbusters deemed this the best remedy. Bread is not far behind for me. Anything fatty or starchy is going to help.

  • +32

    Get a good cooler bag and put your lunch in there at your desk. I'd hate to think if there is also taste testing going on before they steal the food…

    • +5

      Yep, cooler bag and freezer bricks

  • +10

    Load the sushi up with wasabi

  • +37

    This used to happen to me all the time. It is very frustrating.
    I purchased a good quality cooler bag and a freezer block and take my lunch in that.
    I keep the bag at my desk
    It saves a lot of trouble and angst not to mention money on food!

    • Do this.

  • +16

    Save an old sushi box and put some sushi made from plasticine in it. It is food safe and would be a laugh.

    • +3

      using raw chicken will also be a laugh. ahh im satan

    • Or put soap in it.

  • +4

    That's basically stealing! I imagine a sushi lunch costs ~$10.
    I personally wouldn't touch my lunch that has been nicked. Who knows what they've been touching before touching your lunch.
    That's like getting $10 note taken from your wallet every other day. WTH! Who are you working with!
    Get your own spy camera from Jaycar or look for cheaper eBay alternatives!

    • +6

      Wasabi. Lots and lots of wasabi. In fact, replace the cucumber with wasabi and the next time somebody comes back from lunch with swollen lips, you'll know it's them!.

      • +7

        I love wasabi and lots of it ~

        You'll never catch me

  • if you like chilli, then hide the hottest and the spiciest chilli in the middle of attractive looking food…

    if the thief accidentally consume it without your permission, and he got sick, then it is his problem…

    he know it is not belong to him, but he consume it without knowing what is inside your favourite food… well, bad luck for him…

    • +3

      Death sauce?

  • +9

    1. Setup a bait with wasabi/chilli, hotter than an average person can handle so you'll be able to see who did it.
    2. Setup a paint bomb inside the lunch bag- some engineering skills may be required.
    3. Put some soft drugs in the food, just enough to be detected in the blood and enough to get the person high. Get work to do a random drug test.
    4. Reuse the takeaway containers eg. sushi tray, make your own sushi but put dogcat food in it instead of something.

    • +23

      Glitter bomb

    • +10

      What about Gastro-stop? If you lace the food with about 2 doses of gastro stop and the thief eats it all, he/she will get some serious constipation issues as the medicine will slow down intestinal activity, causing them to get bound up.

      The effect is not immediate, more like it'll ruin their next bathroom trip.

      • And be ready in the bathroom then, by taking out all the toilet paper.

        • +8

          Don't really need toilet paper when you can't take a dump due to constipation ;)

      • +3

        gastro-stop is a miracle drug. I took one when i was busting in a public place (i.e not for normal reasons) and didnt go for about 4-5 days. Then i just resumed my normal cycle. I have no idea where all the other food went !!!

        • +1

          Watch South Park episode 87. This could have happened in your sleep.

    • +5

      Soft drugs or even any type of drugs is the worst idea. Theft or not you could get done with poisonig or drugs at work. As it wouldnt take much to prove you did it deliberately.

      Chilli is fine as its a food and doesnt matter how hot you can always play dumb.

      • How will someone prove that OP drugged it or drug slight poisoned it when the person does not have to eat it at first place and second food will be consumed.

        • +2

          Because you are essentially booby trapping the food and that is flat out illegal.

          Also with drugs people can have really bad reactions towards drugs and what reason would you have for putting drugs in your food besides to booby trap it? Not so much with chilli and with chilli there are different tolerance levels and you could legitimately be putting it in your food. For instance I can eat food that makes most people run to get the milk and I can't even taste the heat. You can play dumb and there is nothing they can do as recourse unless you admitted you did it on purpose.

          One method you could get yourself in serious trouble not to mention cause health consequences and the other is fine. Why go for the risky one?

        • +5

          @kasp: Isn't stealing illegal?
          Its not a booby trap. OP is not luring people to his food. Its someone's property and other person is not allowed to do what he/she is doing.
          If they open a package they should not, it is their risk. Things like laxative, chillies, Gastro stop, etc. are not illegal and that's why available in the market.

          So advising people not to take normal measures to protect is out of my mind. It is like making sure a thief in your house is not hurt as it will be illegal to create booby traps.

        • +4


          Sure it is but just because someone is stealing doesn't mean they dont have protection of the law.

          You can also buy ratsak over the counter doesn't mean you can lace it in a sandwich and try and get someone to eat it. Like i said I am all for them teaching them a lesson but if they use extremely hot chilli it has virtually no chance on coming back at them, plus you have a greater chance of working out who it is. If they use other things it could backfire on them in a huge way.

          It's pretty much the difference of using something that could legitimately be used on a food for flavour or introducing something foreign that doesn't belong there to teach the person a lesson. If shit hits the fan what would you rather be justifying?

        • @kasp: What if thief is seriously allergic to chilli… Come on. There is no stop on what can cause problems to others. People can be allergic to anything and we cant stop packing our tiffins for that.

          OP can add something he feels is not lethal, but will teach them a lesson. No one asking him to poison it….

        • +8


          Someone who has serious food allergies shouldn't be scabbing other people's food from the fridge.

          They didn't bring it.
          It's not theirs.
          They're a thief.

          They reap what they sow.

        • @Spooked: Thats what I was saying to kasp when he said op should not do anything funny with his food and illegal thing.

        • +1

          So what if they are allergic to chilli? They could be allergic to peanut butter, doesn't mean people can't eat peanut butter sandwiches. The issue is deliberately setting a trap for someone is illegal and can get you in trouble. If you use drugs, or anything that isn't really designed to be a food if shit goes down you can get in trouble fo deliberately setting a trap as it would be easy for them to point at what was in the food and go "You did that on purpose". If it was chilli it would be impossible for them to prove it.

          How can you not see the difference between using a food item which can legitimately be there and using a nonfood item which isn't supposed to be there.

          Also don't strawman me I never said not to do anything with the food. I said don't do it in a way which can completely (profanity) yourself over if something goes wrong.

        • +5


          It's a sad reflection on society that the victim here can become the criminal.

          Girls, don't get raped, but if you do, don't pepper spray back - that's illegal.

        • -4


          Not really theft or not you shouldnt be allowed to effectively poison someone.

          Also that is a pretty extreme analogy and doesnt really work. It woulf be more like the girl trying to get raped so she can pepper spray someone. Which we can all agree is ridiculous.

  • +3

    Cut their grass.

  • +17

    I would have gone absolutely insane the first time it happened..

  • +1

    Just make sure the water cooler is empty if you do the wasabi/chili trick. Yes I know water doesn't work but it would be a laugh seeing them go for the cooler and there's nothing in it. Added points if you remove all milk from the staff fridge temporarily prior

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