I mentioned once before that I unintentionally masterminded a criminal operation during my employment at a certain shipping company. (What can brown do for you? Give you back problems for life. That's what.) For some reason, I've been reminded of that a lot lately. Probably because I've been seeing a lot of big brown trucks on the road, but I digress.
When I moved to Vegas to start work on my Ph D, I transferred to a center in Vegas. I'd worked for Big Brown for a long time already, so had moved up the pay scale enough to make it worth it. (Or so I thought. That was before needing back surgery. Nothing's worth that.) The thing that sucked was that everything in that company is based on seniority, and once you transfer to a new location, you lose all of it and have to start back at the bottom of the list. That part I didn't mind either. At least not at first. I'd always said I preferred doing the grunt work where you were just paid to move as fast as possible, without being responsible for making anything neat and orderly. The stress level was much lower that way. However, I was good at the other stuff. Loading trucks (as opposed to unloading) and making everything fit. So, while I lost my seniority, and spent the first few weeks at the new building doing the less stressful stuff, it didn't take long for management to figure out that I was better utilized elsewhere. They assigned me to fill in for anyone who was on vacation, injured, or sick. The sick calls were the worst because if someone was going on vacation they would usually try to give you a day working with that person so he/she could try to show you where things went. Regardless, it was tough being in a different part of the warehouse every day, with no time to really learn the specific areas/trucks that I was loading. But, I did get to know many of the different people around the building. And I got to see many different parts of the operation.
So, after bouncing around for a while (before I eventually got sick of it and gave them an ultimatum: give me regular trucks or I'm going to quit), I was assigned to fill in for a guy who'd broken his leg in a car accident. I loaded his trucks for the entire time his leg was healing, so got to know some of the people in that area pretty well. At least on a superficial level. One day they were talking about how much merchandise got moved through the building on any given day, and how they wished you could just pick a package to take home with you once a month or so. It was something the employees would often joke about, even before I transferred, so I didn't think much of it, but I did say that if given the option you could really do well for yourself if you just learned what to pick and choose. Knowing the businesses that are on the routes you loaded for would definitely help decide what to pick. You know, if given the option. Jewelers, auto shops (especially those that deal with expensive rims), electronics stores, etc. would all get packages that you could take and sell for profit, even if you sold the stuff at a much reduced price. It's the idea behind every pawn shop, right?
Anyway, a few of the guys started talking about how it's just too bad that you couldn't do it and get away with it. I mentioned that I didn't think it'd be that hard*, and it really wouldn't have been. They asked me to elaborate, so I did. I told them exactly what I'd do and how I'd do it.
Fast forward to about six to nine months later. One day four people didn't show up to work. Rumor was that they'd been arrested for stealing from the company. It turned out, they'd taken my "advice" and set up an operation where they were regularly stealing packages. They got caught because they got sloppy (and greedy). Rumor was that the police found them in a storage unit with an estimated $60,000 worth of stolen merchandise that they were trying to move. It's probably a good thing they never clued me in nor offered to pay me my cut.
*For my entire life I've been convinced that I could do anything I wanted to and get away with it. As long as I put a lot of thought into it and as long as it was just one time. I still believe that. After all, our system is set up to catch stupid people and repeat offenders. If you're smart about a crime, and only do it once, you don't give the police anything else to work on. Again, it has to be well thought out, and you have to avoid bad luck while executing your plan, but you get my point.