I am once again a step behind the milk thieves. At first I wrote funny messages about milk-stealing on my bottles. This worked for a while. Then I started dying the milk with food colouring. That also worked for a while, but today I came in to find about 20% of the milk missing from what had been a full (green) bottle.

I thought about putting salt into the milk, but there are several problems with that approach: the thief does not strike often enough — I would have to keep it up for a month to get him; if there is more than one thief it is no good if only one learns his lesson; and the thief might complain.

Let’s think about the psychology of the thief. I see two possibilities:

  1. A PA who has been asked to make tea or coffee when the milk has run out. To this person, there is nothing more important than not having to go back into her boss’s meeting to announce that there is no milk. If milk is spiked with salt on one occasion, she will just taste it on the next. Even if I catch her, she will be far less concerned about me being angry than she will about her boss being angry.
  2. A senior person who is grabbing a cup of tea or coffee between a number of other tasks. This person is not on a budget as I am. 50p for a pint of milk is nothing to him. He is a man who has got where he is today by taking action when action is needed, and now theft is the action that has to be taken to get that coffee. If a few pansies get upset about their milk going missing, that is no concern of a man like him. If his milk is spiked occasionally, he will probably just make a fuss about it and certainly not take any blame.
Since neither deterrence nor appeals to their better nature (they don’t have one — you don’t have any morals unless you can stick to them under pressure) are likely to work on these people, I can see only one solution: disguise the milk. I will have to find some kind of box to put it in. Perhaps with a lock.
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