It probably happens every time she works, Jackie Tate, a bartender at The Crystal, said: People try to steal mugs, pool sticks and neon signs from the wall.
At one point, someone stole a piece of the wall itself from the bar at 34 N. Court St., she said.
“People are always trying to steal the most random stuff,” Tate, a senior studying sport management, said.
Workers at other bars have similar stories. Rachael Wiley, a bartender at The Over Hang at 63 N. Court St., said someone tried to steal a cocktail strainer in front of her.
“Drunk people think everything is funny and will steal anything and everything,” she said.
Painted guitars hang from one of The Over Hang's walls. People try to steal them every now and then, but they usually don’t succeed, she said.
“Try walking one of those out the door in front of me,” she said.
Still, the bar used to have six more of the guitars. At least one of those six was successfully stolen, she said.
When the bar used to display artwork, people would steal that as well, Wiley said. She said they would also sometimes rip the art up.
Other items people try to steal from The Over Hang include salt shakers,
When The Over Hang gets busy enough, the bar staff starts using plastic shot glasses to keep people from stealing the glass ones, Wiley said. She gives the regulars she trusts glass every time, though.
Wiley said she thinks the thieves do it for the story, not because they actually want the items.
“It’s just the culture of this university,” she said. “A lot of these kids have never worked anywhere in their lives. They don’t understand the value of money or what it might mean for the people working.”
Ed Cranford, a manager at The Pub at 39 N. Court St., said the bar used to have a coin-operated candy machine. Its proceeds went to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, he said. At the end of the night, he said workers would sometimes notice the machine had simply disappeared.
The third time it happened, the bar didn’t replace it, he said.
People steal things from the bar two to three times a week, Cranford said.
“If you take a look at the bar, you’ll see that there are things bolted to the walls,” he said. “This is why.”
As long as the patrons give the things they’ve stolen back, the bartenders all said they usually don’t call the police.
Tate said workers at The Over Hang don’t usually call the police because they tend to catch people before they steal anything big enough to merit a police report.
“I say, ‘What are you doing? Give that back,’ ” Tate said. “We’re usually pretty good at catching them.”
Athens Police Chief Tom Pyle said people stealing things from bars in the city is “not unheard of.” Sometimes his department receives calls about thefts, but more often he said officers find people with stolen items.
“They’ll walk by, and they’ll see (bargoers) carrying a neon sign or a poster board,” Pyle said. “And the officers will stop and say, ‘Most people don’t walk around with a Budweiser neon sign, so where’d you get that?’ ”
The people usually admit the items are stolen, Pyle said. He said officers sometimes charge them with theft and sometimes just walk them back to the bar and make them return the items.
“It can be handled in a variety of ways, but it never results in them keeping the property,” Pyle said.