Idea in short

Regardless whether it's a ballpoint pen or a creative idea, the thief stops at nothing! What pleases him is packed and deployed to his own advantage, much to the sorrow of other colleagues.

The thief is a special type of colleague, which comes in two different forms, namely those that steal:

  1. Material things
  2. Ideas

The first thief type comes close to the classic thief, but is largely harmless. He has set himself the task of taking something here and there from the workplace. Among the objects of his desire are mainly office material, snacks and promotional items. Really valuable items such as technology or furniture do not interest the thief. After all, that would be too conspicuous!

Nevertheless, he can be quite annoying in the long run, for example, when his colleagues are constantly looking for a notepad or a pen and the thief is picking up these things in his desk drawer. No matter whether it is annoying or not, colleagues with a pronounced kleptomaniac inclination can be associated with a lack of loyalty to the company.

Whoever appreciates his employer, should not have the desire to do away with items, no matter how precious they are. Furthermore, it can be assumed that this colleague guy is a dishonest contemporary, who one should not trust.

The second thief type is quite intricate and sophisticated. He does not focus on material things, but rather on the ideas that originate from his colleagues. Surely, everyone of us knows this situation:

We have a brilliant idea, which we immediately euphorically shared with our desk neighbours. The idea immediately arouses the sophisticated thief, who shows extreme interest through his queries. What anyone hardly notices at that moment is that his questions do not serve the purpose of collaborating on the idea, but rather to solely to gather information and further his interests and standing in the organisation. The thief is already scheming how best to sell the idea to the boss.

At a glance

  • Always in search of profitable stolen properties, either objects or ideas
  • Selfish
  • Only considers his own advantage
  • Untrustworthy
  • Dishonest
  • Lack of loyalty to the company and his colleagues
  • Pretends to be something that he is not
  • Unpopular with the rest of his colleagues

How to deal with them?

If you notice that one of your colleagues could be a potential thief, it is important to consider what is more important to you – the general climate or loyalty to the employer. You may choose to thwart the thief by notifying his actions to his superior. In the event of disputes, it may be necessary to point out the colleague’s misconduct, which may, at times, unfortunately bring very little immediate action. It is much more effective to talk with other employees and let the thief feel that his behaviour is wrong. On the other hand, when he is stealing on a grand scale, it is indispensable to report theft to the management. The kleptomaniac colleague then faces termination.

If no objects, but ideas are stolen, it is obligatory to address the problem directly, first one on one and later, if no improvement occurs, openly. By eliminating any counter-defenses, you will soon become indispensable to other employees who will benefit from your ideas. Always stay objective and avoid a hostile tone. Professionalism is important during such a conflict with your thieving colleague.


As a general rule, think carefully about who you want to openly talk about your lightbulb moments and if you sense a dangerous situation, it is better to keep your mouth shut. This also applies to your notes. Never leave them lying on your desk. You never know who is throwing a thievish look at it.