All eyes were on Zak Toscani’s Twitter timeline Friday when he shared that a coworker whose shrimp fried rice lunch was stolen just got the opportunity to watch office security footage to find the culprit.
Toscani and coworker Jonathan Dean — described in the thread as “Shrimp guy” — work at a post-production facility in Los Angeles.
Toscani revealed Thursday on Twitter that the footage, according to Dean, showed that the culprit was a coworker of theirs who sits 3 feet away from them. Even more surprising was the fact that rather than eat the shrimp fried rice, the coworker took the box out the fridge and threw it into the trash.
Dean didn't want to make a big stink about it, so as to not have anyone fired over a lunch, but the company’s HR department did send an email reminding coworkers not to take other people’s food.
When the alleged lunch thief returned to the office post–video viewing, Toscani tweeted out step-by-step her reaction to the email reminder.
According to Toscani, she first questioned who would steal someone’s food. When Dean added that no one should throw away someone else’s food either, indicating he was the victim, her questions shifted to why he would ever go to HR over something like that.
Toscani added that the coworker never cracked or confessed, and gave no indication that she was aware the office knew she was the one who disposed of the shrimp fried rice. Even when Toscani brought in shrimp fried rice for the office on Friday, he posted that she happily partook.
The story on Twitter didn’t end wrapped in a tiny little bow, so BuzzFeed News talked to Toscani and Dean to try and get to the bottom of the mystery.
First of all, timeline-wise, Toscani, Dean, and the HR email BuzzFeed News reviewed all confirm that the theft, the reveal, and the return of the thief all took place over a couple of days earlier last week, so it wasn't live-tweeted. Instead, Toscani told BuzzFeed News that he took some liberties with the tense because he had only recently found the time in his busy schedule to share the story.
(Toscani said he did, however, bring in shrimp fried rice for the office on Friday.)
Second, it was HR’s idea to watch the security tape. Dean told BuzzFeed News that he watched the video multiple times with about three other people in the room, and that everyone was in agreement on who they saw throw away his food.
Dean requested that HR send the company email reminder because he just wanted the culprit to know, "Hey, I know somebody stole my lunch."
As for why everyone in the office passed on confronting the fried rice culprit directly, Dean pointed out that she’s “an enigmatic figure — she kind of has a strong personality."
Basically, no one in the office would really seek out conflict with her, Dean said.
Toscani and Dean said that even when joking about the situation in front of the culprit this past week, all references to the theft have seemingly gone over her head.
“I guess she assumed she got away with it,” Toscani said. “Knowing her, I'm kind of like, I'm OK with a mystery... Maybe she doesn't even know [why she did it].”
Dean agreed that at this point, the theft is not that deep.
“I'm happy with the environment, I'm happy with the work — it was just an annoying thing that happened," he said.
Both guys said they are surprised at how big the story got, with entertainers like Lin-Manuel Miranda and Patton Oswalt commenting on the situation, but Toscani feels it's been resonant because “it's just kind of one of those things that happens in offices and this one was particularly interesting because, like, how often does someone get to catch the person who did it and also, like, see video evidence that they took it.”
While Dean and Toscani are at peace with the lost shrimp fried rice, the food mysteries of their office still continue despite recent warnings to label all food.
“Subsequently, Zak had brought cream cheese for me and we put it in the fridge and now that is missing,” Dean said. “So there's some type of food culprit, or someone. I don't know if they have it out for me or maybe dislike me, I don't know.”