Coffee theft at UMaine spurs surprise gift

Posted Jan. 20, 2010, at 9:54 p.m.

ORONO, Maine — The case of the coffee bandit may not be solved, but the employees in the University of Maine’s Office of Student Financial Aid got some relief Wednesday for their caffeine cravings.

More than a month after two bags of Eight O’Clock brand coffee were reported stolen from a basement break room in Wingate Hall, where financial aid has its offices, the coffee company surprised workers with replacement java.

Office of Student Financial Aid Director Peggy Crawford said a box arrived at noon Wednesday containing four bags of ground coffee and two mugs.

“I just started laughing,” Crawford said when she saw what was inside the package. “The amazing thing is, we don’t really have a lot of coffee drinkers. Maybe just half of the office.”

Crawford reported the theft, including the coffee and a computer mouse, on Dec. 20. The incident ended up in the Police Beat section of the Maine Campus newspaper and was posted Jan. 14 to the paper’s Web site.

Alisa Jacoby, a senior brand manager for the New Jersey-based coffee company, said employees found out about the thefts through Google Alerts, a service that alerts its users by e-mail every time a certain topic comes up on the Internet.

“We didn’t want our Eight O’Clock Coffee fans to have to get through a day without their great-tasting Eight O’Clock Coffee, so we thought we would replace their coffee for them,” Jacoby said.

The coffee drinkers in the financial aid office, Crawford said, aren’t particular about their brand of joe, buying whatever is on sale and drinking whatever happens to be in the break room.

Although Eight O’Clock Coffee sent ground coffee, and the bags that were stolen contained actual coffee beans, Crawford said the financial aid office isn’t picky.

“We’re not going look a gift horse in the mouth and send it back,” Crawford said with a laugh.

The theft is still under investigation, Crawford added.

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