The Great Hammer Thief

There was a  guest post on Blue Collar Workman recently about a construction worker stealing equipment from another worker. That’s pretty bad, but what about when a non-worker steals equipment?

About a year ago, I was working at a job site in a high-rise building in the big city. The whole floor of this building was being gutted and remodeled which meant that there were lots of workers there.


What would you do to steal one of these?

The company I work for was handling most of the carpentry, and other companies had workers there doing electrical work, duct work, and so on. In situations like these, we don’t always know who the dudes are that are from the other companies.

I was making some measurements and noticed this dude on the site that didn’t look like he fit. Brand new hard hat, nothing on it, and sneakers. Nobody, I don’t care who you are, wears sneakers at job sites. The dude just didn’t look right.

I saw him pick up a hammer that was lying on the floor and sort of hang around awkwardly in the corner.

I stood up and asked the foreman if he knew who the guy was because he looked suspicious. I know what suspicious looks like, I used to be a suspicious kind of guy!

The guy slowly backed into the stairwell. I opened the stairwell door after he left and could hear him running down the stairs.

I grabbed an air duct guy, told him what happened and was about to run after the thief into the stairwell when the air duct guy said, “No.” He headed for the elevator instead. Him, a couple other duct guys, and me hit the button for the ground floor, and waited in the lobby when we got down there.

This guy came barreling out of the stairwell about 30 seconds later, huffing and puffing, and one of the air duct guys grabbed him. They took the hammer from him, gave it to me, and nodded me to go back up to the job site.

They took the thief outside. I think in the white collar world, you call the police. But lots of times in the blue collar world, you don’t. You handle it yourself. I’m not sure what the duct dudes did to that guy outside, and I never asked.

The hammer was one of the cheapest things on the site that day. It probably cost less than $25.


The Great Hammer Thief — 34 Comments

    • With so many workers onsite, I think people might think that we wouldn’t notice an “outsider”. But when you’ve got a sparkling new hardhat and sneakers on…dead giveaway! I think maybe he was after something more expensive but got sidetracked or nervous or something.

    • I guess you never know. Maybe he did just need a hammer, who knows! I guess if he’d picked up some nails that might’ve been the cheapest thing…but… it was weird, that’s for sure.

    • That sucks! I hate how you have to practically weld things down or lock them up tight otherwise people rip them off. Where has the honesty gone?

  1. That’s so sad; I wouldn’t even think he “needed” a hammer, I think it’s more likely that either he needed to STEAL a hammer (gang initiation or dare from friends) or he was there to do something worse and got caught where he wasn’t supposed to be; maybe he was the reconnaissance or something like that.
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    • ANy of those could be what was happening. All good guesses! I was thinking maybe he really wanted something else that was worth a litlte more…skill saw maybe?…but got scared off or couldn’t get to it or something.

    • Yeah, like Nancy Jones said, there could’ve been other things going on, or he wanted something more expensive but couldn’t get to it. It’s hard to say, and I didn’t exactly get to ask the dude after we caught him.

    • Yeah, maybe, it’s always hard to say. With the pristine hardhat, it seems like he had too much planning for just the rush of it all. Dont’ know though!

  2. If people can steal toilet paper and lunches from colleagues at work (which did happen where I worked) I can believe your story about the hammer 100%. People steal for a myriad of motivating reasons, the worst is for the pure thrill of seeing if they can get away with it. Good for you for noticing that the guy didn’t blend in to your normal work environment!
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  4. Jeez. If it’s not red-hot or nailed down…

    My favorite, now-defunct roofing company sent a great roofer over to redo the asphalt shingles. While the guy is ON THE ROOF, he looks down and sees a couple of schmucks drive up, stop their car, jump out, and steal tools off his truck!

    Of course, by the time he got back on the ground, they were long gone. I’m sure he would have “taken care of it himself” if he could’ve gotten his hands on the clowns. And he was not a man you would have wanted to meet in a dark alley…
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