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Column: Have you stolen milk from the office fridge?

A nice cup of tea - but did you pay for the milk?
A nice cup of tea - but did you pay for the milk?
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You may work for the most international, high-flying, sophisticated and trendy organisation in the world – but it is unlikely you have escaped  the ubiquitous communal fridge theft rage.

Unless you are lucky enough to work from home and be fully in control of your food storage and refrigerated areas, it is likely that you have installed a security-based labelling and anti-theft device on your half drunk pint of milk and the salad you are saving for tomorrow.

Not just any label, but one that announces ‘poison – consumption will lead to death’ or as one wag in this office wrote, ‘breast milk’.

It’s an issue most of us, even those who now have largely law-abiding colleagues, have experienced.

It started when your siblings stole the last sliver of your favourite chocolate bar at home (yes, I know it was you dear sibling) and was exaggerated to stressful proportions at colleague or university shared digs when you simply could not afford to replace the cut-price bottle of vodka, two-minute noodles or moldering block of cheese from the festering fridge.

But back in the office, food theft, and specifically milk-vanishing, is treated not so much as a crime but a sport – with staff divided into schools of behaviour.

The honest milk-buyers actually pay for the milk.

The occasional milk-buyers sometimes buy their own, shrug their shoulders at obvious levels of depletion and occasionally get irrationally furious and add orange juice or in a proper rage, washing up liquid to leave culprits literally foaming at the mouth.

Meanwhile, brazen thieves never buy milk, but drink coffee at a rate of one an hour, adding milk – breast or not – happily while others rage.

But is the office milk party over?

News that a police officer has been prosecuted for stealing chocolate from a communal kitchen should send warning shots across the bows of the casual crisp-pinchers, the boiled sweet nickers and the casually cool well-caffeinated criminals.

It’s not OK to steal, kids.

Even in the less pleasant than home environs of work, it is theft.

I’m raging at the thought so much I need coffee.

But I’ve run out of milk...