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Saturday, 29 November 2014

Food theft from pantry fridges

Send us your ideas for tackling this problem to suggestions@connaught-hall.org.uk.

We are aware that theft of food from pantry fridges is a problem. It is selfish, ignorant, and childish to say the least. And enormously frustrating for those whose food is stolen. A very small minority of residents are responsible for this, I know, but I still find it quite extraordinary and very disappointing that adults at some of the best higher education institutions in the world engage in such petty theft.

Sometimes, your fellow residents keep food in the fridge because they are unwell and can only muster an appetite for certain foods, or because they have special dietary requirements. They might have to go hungry if someone else takes their food. And whatever the reason for having food in the refrigerators, it is really upsetting to find it stolen by someone else. So please only take food or drink from the fridge if you bought it.

This has been a problem every year, at least since I lived at Connaught Hall in the 90s as an undergraduate. I know from speaking with wardens in the other intercollegiate halls, as well as LSE, UCL, Imperial, and Kings halls, that it is just as much a problem elsewhere.

Some halls have combated this problem by having fridges with lockable compartments. But this only works when a kitchen is shared by 5-10 people, not 30-40 people. We cannot have lockable fridges here, as there isn't enough space on each floor for fridges to contain 40 compartments.

CCTV is not the answer. We have tried it before, and it was completely ineffective at both deterring and detecting thieves: the thefts continued, and we didn't catch anyone.

But you might have an amazing idea that will help us stop this very frustrating problem. If you do, write to us at suggestions@connaught-hall.org.uk.