Roommate Stealing Food: How to Approach the Situation

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Roommate Stealing Food: How to Approach the Situation

Rachael Weiner · Aug 25, 2010

One of the most frustrating situations you can encounter in your apartment is living with a roommate who is stealing your food. Not only does it affect the amount of food you have available and your financial situation, it places you in an awkward situation. If your roommate is stealing your food, here’s how you should approach the situation.

Assess the Situation

There are two kinds of roommate food thieves: the ones who only take a little bit and the ones who eat everything. Generally speaking, the ones who only take a little bit of your food every now and then aren’t too big of a problem. While it doesn’t make it right, only eating one of your cookies every now and again doesn’t have too big of an impact on your routine. On the other hand, living with a roommate who straight up consumes your groceries as if they’re his or her own is unacceptable. Before you devise a plan of action, figure out which of the two you’re dealing with.

Approach Your Roommate

In the case of the occasional thief, a simple conversation about the situation is enough. It’s best to bring the topic up close to the time it actually happened (i.e. don’t bring up the cookies he or she ate three months ago—focus on the present). Say that you noticed he or she had eaten some of your food and that you’d appreciate him or her asking first. Be nice in your approach. Intense confrontation or accusation never goes over well.

In the case of the 24-7 thief, it’s time for an intervention. Be nice in your approach, but firm. Let your roommate know that you’ve noticed most of your groceries are being consumed and that you don’t appreciate it. Bring up the fact that you work hard and spend your own money so that you can eat the things you want. It’s about respect—just as you wouldn’t want your roommate wearing your clothes or using your belongings without asking, you don’t want your food to be taken. Anything that is yours is off limits unless it was clearly indicated otherwise. If your roommate tries to deny it or gets defensive, say that you’re not angry, but don’t want it to happen again.

Take More Drastic Measures if Needed

If your roommate continues to steal your food after the talk, you’ll need to take matters into your own hands. It’s neither ideal nor fair, but you’ll want to consider looking up you food in your room. Especially in the case of snack foods like crackers and chips, keep them in a tightly sealed container locked in your closet or desk. For perishable foods or refrigerated foods, purchase a small refrigerator that you can lock up in your room.

Another solution is to shop day by day so that you only buy enough for the meals or foods you cook at any given time, leaving little stored for your roommate to steal. It’s a pain to have to modify your behaviors because of a disrespectful individual, but look at it as a short term solution until you move out or find a better roommate.

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Rachael Weiner: I’m a communications professional for a non-profit, which financially necessitates my status as an apartment dweller. Constantly “on-the-go,” I’ve resided in five different apartments across the United States over the past five years. Roommate issues, budgeting, organizing and handling problem neighbors are my specialty.

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