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Holiday Theft: The Stupidest Grinchs I Have Ever Known

This time of year, a while back, I was the only area manager in the plant just before Christmas.  We were in the middle of a large capital project installation.  The plant was down for the holidays, except for the construction work going on in the new facility.  Earlier the same morning, the millwrights had discovered that over $15,000 in hand tools and equipment had been stolen from the mechanical shop.  There was too much equipment missing all at once to be anything but theft.  The automation technicians had recently installed some DVR video cameras throughout the new part of the plant.  These cameras were situated to allow the operators to view key parts of the process from the operating pulpit.

On one of the video feeds, the senior automation tech thought that he noticed two guys moving tools out of the shop through a glimpse of the camera.  The resolution wasn't very sharp, and was even worse when the footage was blown up to see as much detail as we could.  Meanwhile, there were two millwrights, that worked for a contractor, that were working right outside of the senior technicians office.  I was called over, and a few of us watched the footage over and over while peering out the window at the silver colored hardhat atop the head of the one suspect.  Through the images, we could see that one of the guys in the video was wearing what seemed to be a silver hard hat.  He also had a disposable dust mask around his neck, just like the guy outside the window.  When both of the contractor millwrights went to take a break, we noticed that the way the walked away was identical to the way the two videoed thieves walked.

This whole exercise took about 4 hours, and when we finally realized who stole the tools, we called in their supervisor.  When we presented him with the footage, I noticed a anxious response from the supervisor.  Unfortunately, this guy was so high-strung normally, I couldn't tell if he was in on the theft, or just shocked that his guys were the silver helmeted bandits.  We told the supervisor to contact the contracting company owner and superintendent and have them come to the plant for a sit down.  Meanwhile I decided to contact the local city police just in case the confrontation with the two thieves turned ugly.  Since I was the senior manager (middle manager that is) on site, I made the call to bring in the police, the contractor company owners in order to find the way to get our tools back.

After speaking with the contractor owners, we realized that the footage was too fuzzy to really hold up in court, but the owner took responsibility and said he would terminate the two employees and bar them from our job site.  Meanwhile, the police showed up, and did the absolute worst, most lame job of shaking down the two perpetrators.

I needed Briscoe that night for sure!
 Now, maybe I watch too much Law and Order, but I expected the men in blue to work these two lowlifes a little more than they did.  The younger of the two almost started to cry, I really thought he was going to break down, but then the One Adam-12 wannabe just let up on him.  I was pissed.  The took the younger guy out of the room, and brought in the silver helmet bandit, and just left him there with me, the senior technician, and one of our millwrights.  Now maybe, that cop wasn't so dumb after all, maybe, while the officer left the room, he knew I was going to whisper in the suspects ear that we were going to beat the living sh*t out of him and his buddy if the tools didn't reappear within 12 hours.  He didn't say a thing, just started to tear up, it was priceless.
Remember these guys? Could have used them too.

The guys didn't store the goods on site, and their tool chests were checked out.  They were terminated from their jobs, and escorted out of the plant.  The next morning, their supervisor met up with them, and brought in the missing tools and equipment.  I still never found out if the pinhead supervisor was in on it or not, but they two degenerates were gone for good, we had our stuff back, and chalked it up a win.  The really stupid part of this was that both of these two guys that were caught were making $2500/wk with their overtime, and they threw it away for $15,000 in tools that would only get them about $2000-$3000 at a pawn shop. Stupid, Stupid, Stupid.

 Even the Grinch grew a heart at the end of his theft, these two idiots could have easily worked another eight to ten weeks, but their time was through, just before Christmas.  I can only imagine what B.S. excuse they made up for their families when the went home early in shame. What is important was that with some good luck, persistence, and cooperation, we were able to put the squeeze on a couple of losers, get our stuff back, and have a good story to tell for the rest of our lives.  All with a good bunch of guys and  . . . . . a middle manager.  Have a safe and healthy New Year!


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