The surprising – and not so surprising – items people steal from restaurants

salt and pepper shaker

Over at, they have an interesting article on Top Items Patrons Steal from Restaurants. Some aren’t terribly surprising – salt and pepper shakers, sugar, creamers. But there are some real surprises and some peculiar stories.

Tied with salt and pepper shakers for first as most popular stolen items was one we hadn’t thought about – toilet paper. Apparently bathroom items are quite common – indeed one restaurant reported a stolen faucet.

But it’s in the dining room that people shine. “The dining room thefts are from the more brazen or the needy. Whether nailed down or not, common things that go MIA in dining rooms have been artwork off the wall, silverware, condiments, purse holders, glassware, napkin rings and even copper Moscow mule cups. One chef quipped, ‘Guests that have been drinking tend to get sticky fingers and I’ve seen people take just about anything that isn’t nailed down.'”

The story about the woman especially stealing the table lamp is worth reading, as is the tactful way the restaurant dealt with the situation – by adding the $300 cost of the lamp to the bill. The lamp was tactfully returned, the bill adjusted, and all were happy.

The whole article is humerous, but also a little sad. Witness this story:

“There was a very old couple who used to come in regularly. He was very tall and shuffling, and she was tiny under a floppy hat. He used to call her “Beautiful”, and if you saw her, this would have filled your heart, for she was ancient. When I first started serving them I was confused about what was happening to all the butter, bread, sugar, cream, coffee, at their table. They had seemingly bottomless consumption – eventually I realized that they came in with an empty purse and a thermos. They would add the cream and sugar to the coffee, and then slip it under the table and into the thermos. They were sweet and charming and funny – and I remember holding their relationship as a benchmark – to someday have some old man calling me “Beautiful” in the way that he spoke to her. I made extra trips to their table, to make sure they had all the coffee and bread & butter they would need till their next visit – of course never letting on that I knew their secret.”

What the article doesn’t say, but is obvious, is the cost added to everyone’s bill because of the petty larceny. So we’re all paying.

Photo from Flickr by Christopher Hsia

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