This article is more than 1 year old

BOFH: To catch a thief


Episode 15 BOFH 2001: Episode 15

"And so how does it work exactly?" The PFY asks, always one for wanting to know a little more of the technical nature of things.

"I'm glad you asked" I respond, ever willing to educate inquiring minds. "It's your standard 'Temple of Doom' scenario."

"Temple of Doom?"

"Yeah, as in 'Indiana Jones'" I murmur, gesturing into the bowels of the supply cupboard. "Your common thief comes in, spots the brand new disk drive and goes for it, tripping the tiny microswitch underneath. This in turn, in a majestic demonstration of cause and effect, energises the two solenoids at the rear of the Mounting Hardware Cabinet behind us. Sadly, and to my deep and lasting regret, the cabinet is both poorly anchored and top-heavy due to the large number of very heavy metallic items stacked in the higher shelves."

"And... hinged - to the floor at the front by the look of it," The PFY comments.

"I think you'll find that's an optical illusion."

"No, it's a pair of hinges - Newly greased too! I'll bet it doesn't even make a sound as descends... But they'd never stay there that long..."

"They wouldn't - UNLESS there was more to steal..."

It's a sad but true fact that we have a thief in our midst. And something like this can really upset the morale of the workplace - if we actually had some in the first place. The PFY didn't realise the severity at first, but I managed to put him right...

"What with fingers being pointed," I tell him, "and accusations flying around - it can't do anyone any good. Then, when the thief is eventually caught, there's the distress of the dismissal, the tears and apology, and worst of all, no boozy leaving party."

"Well that's no good," The PFY concurs.

"No. And I'd really like to avoid that if possible."

"By dropping a cabinet full of mild steel on them?"

"I like to think of it as Proactive Kharma," I sigh.

"So you know who it is then?"

"Of course not!"

"You do, don't you..?"

"Well, I might have an idea.."


"Well I looked at the Sign-in Register, and it would appear that whenever a certain Service Engineer visits, things go missing..."

"Which one?" The PFY gasps.

"The Phone Exchange Bloke."

"The one who's doing those rolling digital upgrades?"

"The very same!"

"What's he stolen?"

"What's gone missing you mean? Innocent until proven guilty and all that. Well, there's 512 Meg of DDR RAM, those Brand new P4 motherboards, and your portable MP3 player."


"Yeah, unless you took it home - being the 'Palmtop Device' you described it as in the Purchase Order..."

"!" The PFY mourns wordlessly.

"There, there," I comfort "You'll feel better once the culprit is caught. Meantime, I'm working on a similar version of this which drops certain struts in the computer room raised floor."

"So the floor tiles collapse at one end?"

"Launching a cabinet out like a rugby forward.."

"So what activates it?"

"The radiowaves of an incoming cellphone call - in close proximity to the sensor of course."

. . . Two hours later. . .

"He's here" The PFY murmurs as the Engineer concerned signs himself and grabs a temporary access card "Right. WELL, WE'RE JUST OFF TO.. MORNING TEA THEN," he adds loudly as we make ourselves absent..

. . . 20 seconds later . . .

"Right, don't want to miss this!" The PFY cries, firing up the web cam viewer.

"Where's he gone?"

"Into the machine room?" I ask?


Our view changes abruptly to the inside of the computer room where the engineer concerned is putting on his electrostatic charm bracelet in preparation for the board changeover.

"What's his contact number?!?!" The PFY demands.

I tell him and he's dialling up before I can tell him the guy's out of range..

. . . 2 minutes later . . .

"HALF THE BLOODY FLOOR JUST COLLAPSED!" the Engineer gasps to us, as he tries to extract his toolkit out from under one of the chunkier old mainframes. Unsuccessfully. He then makes his apologies and wanders off to get a new toolkit and card.

"Bet you hope he wasn't carrying the player in his bag.." I comment.

"Yeah, but then what the hel.."

Our conversation is interrupted by a muffled crash from the region of Mission control. Dashing to the scene, we find The Boss trying to extract himself from hinge and slide assemblies.

"WHAT THE BLOODY HELL WAS THAT!?!" he screams. "One minute I'm returning your Portable ZIP drive, the next minute the whole place collapses!!!"

"That would have been the earthquake I guess. Didn't you feel it?"

"Wha?" he snuffles, nursing a nasty bruised arm.

"Perhaps you should go see the First Aid people," I mention kindly, "just in case..."

"Yes, you're probably right.."


"No, he really was returning the Zip drive," I reply. "I lent it to him this morning."

"So we're back to the Engineer.."

"Nah, it wasn't him," I admit as I pack up to wander home.

"But I thought you said that he was stealing stuff?!" The PFY cries across the room

"No, I said that whenever he visits, things go missing!"

"So he's not the then?!"

"So who is then?"

"Oh, that's me. That other crap was just to throw you off the scent while I nicked your MP3 Player flash RAM cards too.." I cry, as I pop out the door and wedge it shut from the outside.

"You bastard!" he shouts, rattling the handle energetically - Energetically enough that I hear the sound of some unoiled hinges squeaking immediately before the crash of a whiteboard swinging down off the wall..

"Yes indeed," I agree. "And what a bastard I am.." ®

BOFH is copyright © 1995-2001, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights.

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like