Quebec Restaurant Owners Revealed What Customers Steal The Most & You All Have No Chill

It might be time to nail down those salt and pepper shakers!

Staff Writer
Crowds walk past two restaurants in Montreal's Old Port.

Crowds walk past two restaurants in Montreal's Old Port.

There are plenty of loose items rattling around a restaurant, from cutlery to plants to "wet floor" signs. Are any of these things particularly appealing? You might be inclined to say "No, not really," and go back to your massive burger, but restaurateurs across Quebec have revealed that such portable items — and more — are often swiped from under their noses.

Our friends at Narcity Quebec reached out to restaurateurs across Quebec to find out what items are most frequently stolen from their establishments, and some of them will certainly make you ask, "Why?" The answer may escape us forever, but perhaps the rising cost of living and inflation are part of the impetus for stealing plastic cups from your local Italian joint.


One restaurant owner whose wet floor sign was stolen joked that she "figured it was a young guy who was like, 'I'm going to put it in my room, I'm going to look cool.'" Another industry veteran told Narcity Quebec, tongue in cheek, that she'll have to start budgeting extra money to cover each missing wet floor sign.

Portable payment terminals

Despite a pretty clear lack of usefulness and the high risk involved with stealing a piece of actively used equipment, portable payment terminals made the list of most stolen items. Maybe people are stocking up to make their own, competing businesses... Much to consider.


Plants are easy to steal because you don't need to actually grab the whole thing. Instead, chopping a small leaf or one tendril can get you a full-size plant in your own home in a matter of weeks.

"We get plants and stems stolen all the time to make cuttings," one server at Chez Josie's told Narcity Quebec.

Salt and pepper shakers

Small and useful, these items are not a surprising addition to the list, but it still takes a large helping of audacity to go through with shoving a pepper shaker into your purse while waiting for your dessert to arrive. It's also worth noting that salt and pepper are not particularly expensive to buy, making this perhaps more of a vanity theft than one born out of necessity.

Condiments and small containers

Another item getting stolen by the truckload? "The f*cking tiny cups for sauce!" one restaurateur told Narcity Quebec in a fit of passion. Small packets of sugar and those little thimbles of cream are also on many people's stealing list, presumably because they're both small and delicious.

Toilet paper

"We've had toilet paper and the roll that holds it stolen," one restaurant staff member told Narcity Quebec.

"At least once a week the toilets are vandalized: holes in the walls, unhooked urinal, unhooked toilet paper or hand machine, and toilets in pieces," another said.

What is it that makes people forget how to behave themselves when in public or semi-public restrooms? It's a mystery for the ages.

Cutlery and glassware

Okay, this one's pretty obvious. Knives, spoons, glasses and escargot forks are all pretty tempting when they're not physically glued to the table, apparently. Each individual loss might seem small, but this type of theft adds up fast when it's happening nearly every day.


"During the holiday season, the restaurant where I worked decorated the reception area with a tree and "fake gifts" (empty cardboard boxes wrapped in paper)," one restaurant employee told Narcity Quebec.

"Every last one of them was stolen. One more was missing almost every day. It was obvious that they were empty."

Bottles of alcohol

This one is bold, and we have to applaud the guts it takes to try lifting an entire bottle from an establishment trying to sell you a single glass.

"A lady once tried to steal a 26 ounce bottle. We caught her in the back of the bar," a restaurant staff member told Narcity Quebec. We can only assume this type of theft is less common than, say, snatching a spoon under the table.

Random objects, not nailed down

Among the stolen items mentioned to Narcity Quebec are a candy dispenser, a cookie rack, a Sapporo beer keg handle and a 20-litre wine rack. For whoever is pulling off these heists, if you're reading this: we don't know who you are, but you've certainly got guts of steel.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

Willa Holt
Staff Writer
Willa Holt is a Staff Writer for MTL Blog, often found covering weird and wonderful real estate and local politics from her home base in Montreal.
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