This story was originally published in Dutch on MUNCHIES NL.
A lot of things get stolen from bars and restaurants. That became clear again in the news recently when a bar owner went to the media to complain about 20 stolen lamps. When I was 16, I once put a shot glass from the bar in my bag with a beating heart. Others have no shame whatsoever and steal the strangest stuff. I asked people working in the industry about the most striking things ever stolen from their establishment.
Where: Café TweeKeerBellen, Den Bosch
Name: Niels Geers
Weirdest thing stolen: Beer tap
During Carnival we were cleaning one night, and we found that the beer tap was gone. I have no idea how they did it. That thing is over a meter high. They also had to pass the bouncer to get outside. Once someone took a bar stool outside without the bouncer noticing. I still don’t understand how nobody saw it.
A lot of small things also get stolen, like coasters and bottle openers. Even I stole those things a few times, years ago. You do not know what to do with it, but it’s the thrill to take something. And often liquor gets stolen. We have a small, busy bar, and from the side you can easily get behind the bar. If you don’t pay attention for a second someone is already drinking a bottle of Malibu or is quietly refilling his own beer.
Where: Café Tijn, Oss
Name: Martijn van der Pas
Weirdest thing stolen: Life size Buddha
In two years’ time, three Buddha statues got stolen from my bar. Two of them were about 4-feet high. One of the thieves even got on the national news, because the police caught him around four o’clock that night. They thought it looked suspicious when they saw a boy on a bike in the middle of the night with a life-sized Buddha. I had not even realized the statue was stolen until the police told me in the morning.
I did notice when another big Buddha statue was stolen from my bar. I was surprised when suddenly it was gone. I watched the camera footage later and I was actually impressed by this theft. Four boys had gathered their coats and threw them dancing all over the Buddha. Then they took the pile of coats with the Buddha underneath outside. One guy distracted the bouncer so the rest could slip away. I posted on Facebook that I had their pictures and knew who they were. The next day the boys showed up, but without the Buddha. That same night it had apparently been stolen from them by someone else. They felt enormously guilty, so they gave me two small Buddhas as a gift.
The third time was a stone Buddha that weighed about 45 pounds; it was stolen by a group of adult men and women. They had spent all afternoon in the bar, and you would not really expect them to steal something. While I could still laugh about the incident with boys, I found it hugely upsetting that these adults, who were fully aware of what they were doing, stole something.
People steal all kinds of things in a pub, so that’s why I literally glue everything. But sometimes they also bring things. Once someone came in with a tire. Why? No idea. He probably found it somewhere and thought it would be nice for the bar.
Where: La Place, Amsterdam
Name: Bart Korsten
Striking it is stolen: Jelly machine
When I worked as a baker for La Place, it appeared one morning that the jelly machine had been stolen. It’s a enormous tool of more than 45 pounds. No idea how that happened. But people take away the strangest stuff. Cups, ashtrays, glasses, and cutlery are the norm. The only thing they took and that I was upset about were the chef’s knives, which are very expensive.
Where: Café Wilhelmina, Eindhoven
Name: Janneke van Hooff
Striking it is stolen: Life-size Santa
For Christmas, we always put a big Santa Claus statue on the terrace outside. It is very ugly. At one point it got stolen, which seemed to be impossible, because of its size and weight. After a while, we started receiving fake photos from our Santa every month. The thieves had sent him on a “world trip.” So we received a postcard with Santa at the train station of Eindhoven, and another one somewhere on a sunny beach. Eventually, we got one where he was back home in the Arctic. They even had a name for him: Wilhelm.
Previously, one of our regular guests had stolen literally everything from the terrace outside. You can only imagine how it feels when I first saw a completely empty terrace.
Where: Sandwich shop in Tilburg
Striking it is stolen: Air freshener, multiple times
A while ago someone stole the air freshener from the bathroom. Pretty strange in itself, but two days later, another one got stolen. I really have no idea how the person did it—it’s pretty big and difficult to hide when you walk outside the deli. Now I always check the toilet for theft because I’m curious. I think it is one of our regular guests. She always drags her shopping trolley and dog everywhere, even just to grab some sugar. The two also go to the bathroom.
The owner’s makeup bag also once got stolen, full of expensive makeup. We do have lockers, but when it gets busy in the morning, it may happen that you forget to lock it. That some people are specifically looking around to steal something really bothers me. Also cleaning equipment often gets stolen. Why would you steal cleaning stuff in a deli? You would expect people to be more likely to steal a sandwich from the counter.