Companies do all kinds of things to boost staff morale. They hire motivational speakers, have team-building exercises, give employees gifts, etc.
But the industrial psychologist Lawrence Zeitlin, in an article published in June 1971 in Psychology Today ("A little larceny can do a lot for employee morale"), argued that the most effective way a business could boost morale was by allowing its employees to steal a little from the company.
He argued that theft added to a sense of "job enrichment" by making the job more interesting. It gave employees a sense of satisfaction at getting away with it. Also, workers "often looked upon theft as a condition of employment." Furthermore, he noted, allowing the theft could be cheaper than installing elaborate security precautions.
In her book Management and Ideology, business author Judith Merkle provides some background info on Zeitlin's article:
Before its publication in Psychology Today the Harvard Business Review had previously turned down the article. It was, after all, a classic application of amoral Scientific Management techniques, and it offended the HBR down to its puritan roots. The interesting point is, however, that the control practices recommended in this article bear a close family resemblance to the working practices of Stalinism. Allowing theft, while keeping the rules against theft, certainly makes theft more thrilling, but it also opens up the way to arbitrary and discriminatory uses of power through the selective application of dead-letter rules. This is, of course, the first step in the destruction of the rule of law, and, in the long run, leads to the introduction of de facto totalitarianism.
Another case of a serial thief with a strangely specific focus. Police in Columbus, Ohio are on the lookout for Sean Patrick Burk, who is suspected of multiple thefts of boxes of Crest White Strips. And only Crest White Strips. They're calling him the "Dental Hygiene Hoodlum."
Says the City Attorney, "Serial thieves generally target certain items but it is unusual for us to see such brand loyalty where an offender only steals large quantities of a single product, over and over again."
You are out at an Easter egg hunt and you see a police helicopter searching the area. Then you see two men running away, what do you do? These kids knew just what to do. They formed an arrow on the ground to point the police in the right direction. Yes, the cops got the criminals. Great job kids!
Parolee tries to escape police in a high speed chase while driving a replica of the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine. The real mystery here is how a 1994 Chrysler Town & Country got up above 100 MPH during the chase.
December 1989: In Des Plaines, Illinois, a man was reported to be showing up at the door of single women and telling them he was a male stripper hired as a gift by one of their friends. It's not known how often this ploy was successful, but if asked to go, he would leave.
The guy came to the attention of the police after one woman, who had invited him in to do his act, suspected he wasn't on the level because he was wearing "dingy" underwear. She noted, "They were supposed to be white, and in the back the band was torn."
Oddly, he only ever showed up at women's homes on Tuesdays.
Doesn't sound like the guy was caught, but I wonder if they could have charged him with anything. Is it illegal to impersonate a stripper?
April 1988: Albert Culberth of Miami ate a few grapes as he and his wife were doing their grocery shopping. An off-duty cop saw him, put him in cuffs, and took him to jail, despite Culberth's insistence that he had every intention of paying for the grapes during checkout.
If the grapes were charged by weight, then yes, he would have been stealing. But from what I can gather, the grapes were part of a set-price pack in his cart. So if he had been given the chance to pay during checkout, the store would have had no loss. The charges were eventually dropped for that reason.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Apr 26, 1988
Posted By: Alex - Fri Feb 05, 2016 -
Originally I was going to write this article about the 1980 case of "Leonardo da Toenail," but then I realized how many additional cases of foot-fanciers lurking under library tables there have been. So I ended up writing a round-up article instead.
Posted By: Alex - Thu Jan 28, 2016 -
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
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