19 October 2009

Theft in the Office

My office was the scene of a theft this past weekend. I lost some cash.

So, here's the back story to it. I have a small amount of cash, which is not mine. This is actually the department's money that I have in small amounts at a time so that I can pay participants whenever they come in for an experiment. It is usually kept in an envelope hidden from view, and most of the time, the amount doesn't go over 50 USD.

Anyway, last Thursday, I conducted my last experiment for the week, and I didn't have anybody scheduled for Friday. I remember having about 25 USD in the envelope, since I asked the principal investigator for more money because I knew that 25 USD would not suffice for the participants I have for this week. I did not touch the envelope at all last Friday since there weren't any participants, and it wasn't until Saturday that I found out the missing 25 USD.

Saturday afternoon, I wanted to listen to music without disturbing my office mate, so I opened the drawer where the envelope was hidden, in order to get my headphones. But alas, the envelope was still there, albeit moved, and the money was missing.

I have my suspicions. It must be one of the people who have key access to the office. There are three occupants in the office, and I have no reason to suspect my office mates, so there can only be one other suspicion, the cleaners. They have master keys to all offices since they need to get in in order to clean the place.

Now the bizarre thing is, I usually leave my laptop in the office, and yet that wasn't taken. I have a USB-attachable mouse and yet it was still there. Of course, they took the cash because cash is untraceable. But the thing is, I always put the garbage can outside of the office so the cleaners will have no reason to get inside, and yet someone got inside. And I find it interesting that they went through the drawers to find an envelope of money. If they found the money in the drawer, then it is safe to assume that they went through the other drawers too and checked what must be inside.

The thing I hate is that I am forced to suspect the cleaners. I know that it is in a certain level, wrong to just typify people of a certain class, such as the working class, and claim that they are good for nothing. I don't want that to happen. And yet, instances like these force me to make these stereotypes. I know that there are honest people out there, even in the working class, but being the pessimist that I am, what would I think?

Anyway, I have changed my modus operandi. I am making things more secure, so hopefully things like this petty theft doesn't happen again.

(African Collection, from my Sackler and Freer Collection Series)


  1. In our office, the cleaners are very honest. It's usually the visitors who "steal." Good thing you lost only USD25. Be careful next time then.

  2. Abaniko,

    I know. That's why I am putting the cash in a more secure location this time (not that my office is not secure, but there were people who had access to the office and had bad intentions).

  3. Sorry to hear that and thankfully it wasn't a big amount. Blue collar workers are usually the first suspects, afterall who would have so much time to check the drawers and all... but we never know! Did anyone else lose anything?

  4. Priyank,

    Nope. Only the cash. Like I said, I have some other valuable stuff in there, but they're still there. Just the cash is gone, since after all, cash is untraceable.

  5. That really suck!

    When I was teaching, I didn't have an office and we knew we couldn't live anything in whatever classroom we were using. One of the building was still okay because we had a receptionist, but the other one was just classroom and stuff were stolen more than once, including umbrellas, cash, jewelery... it always happened fast. Usually, we took 15 min break (have a coffee, make copies...) and whatever you left behind wasn't there. Real pain.

    The office where I'm working now is said to be very secure. Most of my co-workers said they have left Ipod etc. behind and there were still here the following day.

    I'm trying not to leave cash but I do leave USBs, glasses, cream etc.

  6. Zhu,

    I guess you really cannot trust anybody in this world. That's why I am making things more secure here.