By on August 9, 2012
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There once was a song written by Johnny Cash about an auto worker who wanted a Cadillac but couldn’t afford it outright. Thus, he took parts off the line bit by bit until he finally had the car of his dreams.

This is not that story.

According to WAVE (my local NBC affiliate), a temporary employee of the Toyota Georgetown plant stole over $56,000 USD worth of auto parts between 19 March and 15 May of this year, all in the form of 160 cylinder heads. The heads were then sold to two recyclers as scrap.

Forty-three heads were recovered by authorities, but were unusable and written off as a total loss according to Toyota. Whether they’ll be sold for scrap (irony) or recycled in-house is another matter.

The employee, Michael G. Kenny of Winchester, Kentucky, was charged with theft by unlawful taking over $10,000.

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45 Comments on “Not Quite One Piece At A Time...”


  • avatar
    graham

    i see the automatically playing ads are back in full force. Goodbye TTAC for good this time!

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      Yep, I’ve been hitting Autoblog more often than TTAC. The head office managing this sight seems hell bent in driving folks away.

      • 0 avatar
        gear-dog

        This auto play has got to go. Having that kick in while my wife sleeps next to me is almost as bad as when the porn clip turns out to have a surprise sound track. Not good, not good.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        I don’t get to see that stuff. I have ADP – ad block plus. The only thing is, you’ll have to disable it every time you want to see one of Bertel’s clips.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Schwartz

      The Adblock plus browser plug in kills those ads. It is available for Firefox, and I think it also works on Chrome. I don’t know about IE.

      On FireFox go to Tools, Add-ons. Type Adblock Plus in to the search bar. click instal and restart your browser. Relief is instantaneous.

  • avatar
    ehsteve

    just use chrome and enable click to play flash

  • avatar
    86er

    The lyric “I could hear everybody laughing for miles around” would also apply to the psycho-billy… Toyota?

  • avatar

    Is that a cylinder head in your pants or you just happy to see me?

    But that is a larger numbers of heads to be sneaking out per day I’d imagine. How did no one notice?

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    Big lunchbox, if I recall.

  • avatar
    Jonathan H.

    This isn’t the first case of this happening at this plant. Someone stole a bunch catalytic converters last year.

    http://www.lex18.com/news/georgetown-police-former-subcontractor-girlfriend-stole-thousands-from-toyota/#!prettyPhoto/0/

  • avatar
    mikey

    Put me down as shocked. Who knew those dedicated non UAW workers would stoop to theft.I’m sure thats not the “Toyota way”

    Before its mentioned…..That sort of theft in a UAW/CAW plant would buy you a ticket out the door. Permently!

    Union, or no union!

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      If this were a GM employee, Obama would have paid double for the cylinder heads, accused security of acting ‘stupidly’, cited this as proof of management’s ‘war on working people’, and commended the thief for his commitment to recycling. If all this should prove unsuccessful in retaining his job, he can then go on welfare while writing his memoirs (in between periods of bed rest), thus fulfilling the new loosened work requirements.

      Unless he were non-union, in which case he would lose his pension and his home would be destroyed in a Predator strike.

  • avatar
    econobiker

    I worked at a luxury yacht company back in the mid 1990s. The company had excess parts stored from several boat models which were discontinued during the luxury tax downturn of the early 1990s.

    When things started to pick up again, management began to sort out and dispose of the excess parts. An audit discovered twenty-six bronze alloy propellers of 18″ to 28″ diameters missing from the area on the property where these were stored outdoors. Of course these propellers were not lightweight items you’d stash in a lunch box or under a coat as they weighed alot!

    Management put up some hidden security video cameras and caught the night watch guard using a company forklift and the company flatbed pickup to transport the props off the property to transfer to another pickup.

    And once that was known, it really wasn’t that difficult to track the stolen propellers down as the guard sold the props to a scrap yard in the nearby region – not many people scrap dozens of 18″ to 28″ bronze alloy propellers at once.

    And to top it off the guard had gotten a paper check in HIS OWN NAME for the scrap value of $19,000!!!

    “Straight to jail, do not pass Go!”

    The guard went up for three years plus and the company got a private security company after that.

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    $56,000 ?? typically cheap toyota, Call that a theeft? .. here is a REAL theft:
    http://www.couriermail.com.au/ipad/holden-employees-in-25m-stolen-parks-racket/story-fn6ck4a4-1226413583179

  • avatar
    John

    I lived in a town in West Virginia for two years, that had a steel mill. All the workers were members of the steelworker’s union. A guy in town had a house made ENTIRELY out of material stolen from the mill – right down to the exterior paint. Everyone laughed about it. Then the mill shut down. True story.

  • avatar

    Australian police just busted a ring of plant workers stealing LS engines from Holden:

    http://www.autoblog.com/2012/07/05/holden-looted-by-plant-workers-2-5m-in-parts-stolen/

    I can recall some people getting busted trying to smuggle Cadillac drivetrains out of the Clark street plant in garbage dumpsters.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    How does this happen? I thought everything was computerized JIT traffic flow. Doesn’t that mean that there’s cars not being built?

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      It happens because people who have no security manage these supplier warehouses. I have personally had access to crates upon crates of VW, Honda, BMW and MB window-finisher trims. Not that I have any need, but I could have turned a base Jetta into a chromed-out one– on their dollar.

      A friend rents a room in a trailer from this fella. We went to the warehouse because he’d been called-in whenever I was visiting. He drifted with crates of this junk on the forklift– and only sent 6 of them out to Tennessee in a day. He works 60-80 hrs a week, and drives a 200k mile Grand Cherokee.

      I’m tellin ya’ll– these supplier employees make nothing, and live in poverty. They take risks because there’s nothing to lose, and no security in where they are. I’ve known a half-dozen of them now. All lived in shacks. All drove what youall would consider absolute junk. Others may have started with more, and appear to have made something of a life by these jobs– but I don’t believe dirtpeople ever ‘made it’ whilst working for implant-suppliers. Under class, at best. Abject poverty nearly standard.

      This seems so offensive to have written, but is important to add context to youall’s understanding of the southern US supplier-base. SRSLY, we went fishing and he asked what the boat cost– 3x more than his house. That bends my brain a little. My Father(who owns the boat) was a union steelworker, so apparently they spoiled me into having a bias. Unless they really helped my Father make a better life. And I think they did. But that’s because there was a nice education and a half dozen cars in it for me.

      Wait. What were we discussing?

  • avatar
    mikey

    All people involved in material handling,constantly check inventory. When counts get critical,somebody, somewhere will count them the old fashioned way.

    Counless times I’ve been told ” Mikey get your a$$ over to, wherever and count the widgets, right now”

    Saying “the computer told me we had lots” after the line goes down, is a major CLM.

    The dude was ripping off three heads a day? Somebody probably thought it was fishy,but not enough to get excited about.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      If he was working a machining line, he could have been pulling them out of the scrap bin or even intentionally making scrap (claiming a conveyor jammed, etc). The scrap bin isn’t monitored as tight as the production line. Plus, if you have one issue that causes a decent number of scrap pieces, they’ll not review every scrap piece after they figure out the issue. It then makes its way to the scrap bin where it waits to go back to the casting facility.

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    New engines dont get a number until they are approaching the car to which they have been asigned. So new engines arrive in Australia as blanks . The numbers are zapped in seconds.

  • avatar
    mikey

    If you want to get caught, steal something that impacts production. We were losing auto/robot welders ground cables. Braided solid brass. Think of a real old style battery cable. These babies were worth $1200 U.S. a piece.

    The dumb thief stole them right off the production line. Ten to fifteen minutes of down time while the sparkys replaced them.

    That got managements attention. A well placed camera caught the dude.

    We never saw him again.

  • avatar
    JK43123

    My Dad was UAW (retired in the 1980s) and he told me there was so much theft they decided to officially let everyone take a certain number of items a year. So no, no one in the UAW shop got fired.

    John

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @JK43123….Your Dad is not that far off the mark. I saw a lot of stuff go out the door. Lower management, and some upper, were aware cause they were doing it to.

      I also saw people, from both sides get fired. I could write a book on some of the $hit I witnessed, over the years.

      Best to let sleeping dogs lie.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert.Walter

        Actually, I would love to read that book … you can even change the names to protect the guilty… make it in iBooks and sell it from the iTunes bookstore … if the stories are good enough, you’ll make a mint!

      • 0 avatar
        iainthornton

        I’d love to read this!

        It sounds like it could be a serious competitor to Ben Hamper’s excellent Rivethead, amongst others

      • 0 avatar
        Japanese Buick

        Before you write that book, read “Rivethead” and “Savage Factory”. First written by a line worker, second written by a supervisor. Both books are fascinating reading and may already have covered it.

  • avatar
    mikey

    When I worked in chassis, we were losing fully dressed engines from the motor line. Production came to a stop, while a crew of us had to completly dress a new engine,and put it back in sequence.

    They caught an outside constrution company, loading them in dump trucks. The hard hats would tarp the engine and pile debris over top. All this under the watchfull eye of thier boss.

    We never saw that construction company again.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    Maybe this explains all the Sonics missing brake pads.

  • avatar
    harshciygar

    I’ll see you 56 cylinder heads, and up you 140 complete engines and 175 transmissions.

    http://www.lsxtv.com/news/seven-aussies-arrested-in-holden-lsx-engine-theft-ring/

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Ford fired an in-plant department manager for stealing aluminium wheels from the plant. Fired a product development manager for taking long breaks during the day to deliver, with his company car, IIRC fish from his private fish company to local restaurants.

  • avatar
    iainthornton

    This is nothing. I knew a guy who got fired for sneaking out for a cigarette during his shift. After the third time he was gone.

    Now if that isn’t a serious crime, I don’t know what is!

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Stealing company time is no different than stealing product.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      That time adds up fast, so don’t be so quick to dismiss it. I worked with a bitter guy who hated this fat secretary who took four cigarette breaks a day, excluding lunch. Each break was 10 minutes from desk to elevator to outside and back. He considered that forty minutes per day of stolen time. That’s 3.3 hours a week, or 20.8 days a year if you assume a 8 hour day (yeah, right) and two weeks off a year…..

      • 0 avatar
        iNeon

        The days of: “That’s old Clyde right there. He’ll cuss you like a sailor, he don’t bath much– and he eats onion and egg sandwiches for lunch; but he builds a dang fine ______, and has for 30 years. Stay out of his way, and he’ll stay out of yours, kid” are over.

        Replaced with: “Old Clyde called me a moron and on top of that– I am allergic to the scent of eggs. I am damaged by his presence. He is a liability to your company.” Up-to, and until SOMEONE stands up for powerless old Clyde having any say about his entire f-ing day. Or what he believes. Or what he eats. Or smokes. Or Posts to his FaceBook. Or who he’s friends with.

        Anyone is now one GaGa dye-job or cigarette away from unemployment. We need to call this what it is, instead of defending it for what it isn’t– it is large-scale behaviour modification for the benefit of our superiors.

        People need some personal liberties– even while they’re being paid to do other things by their employers. If I don’t mention that most adults would exercise these liberties with some modicum of discretion, will you assume I am arguing for workplace anarchy? Because I’m not.

        What you’ve described, though– isn’t theft. It is a woman having a think and a smoke.

      • 0 avatar
        Mzdaspd304

        I hate people who think like this. The glass half empty, I have it out for smokers because my _insert name of a realitve_ died from smoking. Or they get pissed because you get a break and others don’t because you smoke.

        There is a simple solution to this besides putting another person in the unemployment line….Just don’t pay them. We have to clock in and out for smokes at my job. The more you smoke the less you get paid. Simple as that. When you look at your paycheck and see how much less you got because you went and smoked, you start thinking about not taking that smoke more and more. Not only do you start making money, you save your health.

        If you are salaried, payroll managers and offices can make simple “extra” deductions that is quite simple and not a burden of the company.

  • avatar
    Feds

    There was an urban legend in Oshawa about the guy who passed out as he was approaching the turnstile at the end of a shift. Under his jacket he was carrying 2 heads tied together with a length of rope, and hung around his neck/shoulders.

    As with every good urban legend, everyone knew the guy, or knew a guy who knew a guy, but no one could remember his name.

    The Deere plant, however, had a real concentration of lowriders. Flex-wing cutters had an optional air suspension that used firestone bags. Oddly, we consumed a lot more bags that were required to meet the orders.

  • avatar
    areader

    Worked in a building once where they had a “clean out” day. Everybody was supposed to go through their space and pile all the paper files they didn’t need someplace in their office where the clean out crew would see them and take them out. I think it was a Saturday. So Monday morning, the typewriters were gone. Maybe not every one, or maybe it was every one; don’t remember, but it was a hell of a lot of typewriters. The building occupied a full city block and was 10 stories high.

    Had 3 relatives who worked in an IH plant a LONG time ago. One day a guy walked out with his pants stuffed with hacksaw blades. Before he got to the gate, they started sliding out and falling on the ground. Guard watched this spectacle and didn’t say a word.

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    Ineon has it nailed right there…
    removing stuff from large scale factories is known a shrinkage. it has always happened .
    but this is so true :
    “Anyone is now one GaGa dye-job or cigarette away from unemployment. We need to call this what it is, instead of defending it for what it isn’t– it is large-scale behaviour modification for the benefit of our superiors…”
    If you want to see the future in American work places look to Australia where such social engineering by the labor party has been in full swing for close on 40 years. We are so overgoverned that the australian people ressemble the population of preglasnot Soviet block Citizens. We have lost all incentive to innovate and creativity is stifled because of legislation designed to protect us.
    We aren’t even allowed to have gay marriages.. whatever that is.


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