Theft costly for Dining Service With Dining Service charging up to $10 a dinner, some students feel they deserve to take home the leftovers. And the silverware. And the bowls. And the mugs. In fact, over $170,000 worth of flatware and cutlery disappears from dining halls across campus each year. And that figure does not take into account the coffers of Crunch Berries or the miles of trail mix pirated away for future consumption. The cost of replacing silverware and china eats away about 1.5 percent of Dining Services' $11 million budget annually, according to Dining Services Director Bill Canney. But the burden of replacing inventory is passed along to the customers. Canney said Thursday that Dining Service officials order five times as many sets of silverware per customer as they did about 10 years ago in order to get through the year with a sufficient supply. But he said that although there needs to be increased awareness of the economic effects of stealing food and silverware, Dining Services will not implement any "Gestapo-like" monitoring techniques. Instead, workers monitor the dining rooms in order to stop would-be food thieves. Those who admit to or even boast of being masters in the art of thievery shrug off accusations that they are social deviants. And many of the pilferers are picky about what they pirate away. "I'm a fork/knife/spoon kind of guy," said College senior Joel Trotter last week. "But once I get four plates, four saucers, four cups, four bowls, I don't take anymore. I like having a U. of P. flatware set." He added that he believes pilfering is a widespread problem. "It's not just Wharton students," he said. "And it's not something [Dining Services] can stop. People feel they have it owed to them." Not all are thieves willing to go public with their deeds, although many assert that they do not feel guilty. One College junior, who asked to remain anonymous, said yesterday that although he and his roommates have acquired some silverware and plates over the years, he does not regard it as stealing. "We're borrowing them long term," he said. "We plan to return them someday." The junior justified his practice of confiscating flatware and food by pointing to Dining Services prices, saying that he is only trying to get his money's worth. He added that he often misses meals and that Dining Services' snack bar at McClelland Hall does not offer attractive options. He said he has heard rumors of an impending crackdown on food pilferers, but vowed that Dining Service dragnets would fail to apprehend him. "I don't think their counter-techniques could beat my methods," he boasted. He also said he knows several people who have been caught red-handed. He advised that a non-descript backpack, plastic sandwich bags and subtlety are key to success. But it is not a game for him. "It's a means for my survival," he claimed. "I don't do it to play a game, I do it because I get hungry [between meals]." But some students lament that stealing food has become a way of life for many. College senior Yale Eisen said last week that although he has seen people stealing food with ease, he would never partake of the taking. "I'm too honest," he said. 1920 Commons Student Manager Brian Helmke said last night that although he understands why people feel they are entitled to steal food from Dining Service, "it doesn't give you a right to steal." He said that he has stopped several people in his four yearsComments powered by Disqus
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