Picking and stealing Apple devices from Amazon

"This place is ran like a concentration camp." — Picker, Middletown Delaware Fulfillment Center

From WDEL 101.7 FM: Middletown Police break up Apple Watch theft ring

Four Amazon employees were charged with operating an internal theft ring out of the Middletown Amazon Fulfillment Center where they managed to steal more than $100,000 in Apple Watches over several months, city authorities announced Friday.

According to Middletown Police, investigators were informed by Amazon Loss Prevention of the missing property, which led to the arrest of Tyaisha Butler, Taneesha Pinkett, Isaac Francis, and Shadaria Bell.

Police said search warrants also led to the recovery of "several thousand dollars worth of Apple products."

All four individuals now face charges of theft over $100,000 and second-degree conspiracy. Pinkett, Butler, and Francis were arrested, charged, and released on their own recognizance.

My take: This story got me wondering what it would be like to handle $500 Apple Watches for $15 an hour at a warehouse like that. The three "most helpful" Middletown Delaware Fulfillment Center employee reviews:

No. 3. Poor Work Place Picker (Former Employee) –  Middletown, DE – September 30, 2018 I had a seasonal position for this job. The workplace was hard to figure out. The higher-ups were very rude and didn't really care about you. I saw them fire people on the spot.

No. 2. Great pay, horrible work conditions Picker (Current Employee) –  Middletown, DE – August 8, 2016 Typical day at work. No electronics inside amazon,Clock in exactly at the time your supposed to start your shift. Start immediately working after brief exercise. Work at rate that is fast paced. Paid breaks are fifteen mins. If you are in the back of the center consider your breaks 5 mins because you are expected to be back at the same location by the end of the break. Lunch breaks are 30 mins. If you are under the expected rate you will be written up. If your break is more than 15 mins scan to scan you will be written up. shifts are ten hours. Night shift gets paid more than day.

No 1. This place is ran like a concentration camp Picker (Current Employee) –  Middletown, DE PHL7 – December 13, 2015 I've been at amazon for 3 months now and I can say it's been 3 months too long. I have never heard a single person say they "love their job" or that they enjoy working there. Just people with the look of mourning on their face while they push through the day. The jobs there are very grueling with a very depressing vibe. It's ran like a concentration camp complete with the psychological games meant to keep you feeling less than human.

You can have any music, can't socialize, given in-achievable goals and forced to work extremely hard and barely given any time to rest. At most you get 20 minutes to sit down over an almost 12 hour shift. The break room is strange full of people that sit across from someone never speaking or barely speaking because amazon doesn't let let you socialize or talk to other workers. If you do it's very brief otherwise you'll have a manager or someone wearing a hi-viz vest that gets paid the same low rate as you threatening you like they own you. You work in an extremely hazardous environment where objects that can seriously injure or even kill you fall off the shelves constantly.

Several times I've found dangerous items and even weapons in places that could harm someone not to mention the times I've almost had my foot crushed if I hadn't moved so quickly to avoid items. Others are not so lucky yet the management makes jokes about these things.

Don't mention union because it's like a slave mentioning freedom to a master. They'll play mind games with you by trying to convince you that it's better to be a slave so they can manipulate you into working their 12 hour shifts 5 days a week. You won't have time to do anything other than sleep when you come home and sleep on your days off because they work you so hard you're always tired and sore.

You have no control over anything you do. Even going to the bathroom will get you yelled at. Management for the most part can care less about you. They're just there to blurt out whatever amazon tells them to say and to point their rifle at you and tell you to keep working or they'll shoot.They lack people skills and managerial skills and they make every mistake you can imagine with people. I have no idea how they were approved for the jobs but I can only assume Amazon doesn't like people that can actually think for themselves and use critical thinking because these managers and managerial staff aren't at all intelligent and it shows.

Your co workers come from all walks of life. From people who are just out of highschool to people on house arrest, drunks, druggies, felons, they're all here. Amazon exploits people for labor and they don't care because they always know people will be desperate for a job. Where PHL7 is it's not exactly a thriving economy and there's plenty of people in need of work. Either way Amazon overworks these people and each day is harder than the last because you're always tired. They try to offer their "carrots on a stick" like raffle prizes and give away gifts but I've yet to see anyone admit to winning anything or receive anything they claim people won.

They do play favorites though. Mainly the jobs at PHL7 the ones other people strive for are given to women that look decent on some level or people that are buddy buddy with the people above them. You can work hard and meet all their goals and they'll never know your name or even look to promote you.

My job there is very short lived as A LOT of people have quit when I started or came and went. I like to think of those as the SMART people that had better options than killing themselves for a company that's going to fire them anyhow when things get slow. This is not a company that cares about it's workers..there's a reason that it says "New Hires Start Here" permanently painted on the building. It's hard to find people that have been her for over a year as it's a rarity and very few have been there long including the managers.

Overall it's shocking to see people limping to their cars after a workday because amazon pushes them so hard. It's not the nature of the work that makes the job bad, the work itself is actually quite simple but it's the crack of amazon's whip that makes the place unbearable by tying to force you to work at a pace that not only hazardous but damaging to your health.

There's better ways to make money without stooping so low as to punish yourself working for a company that doesn't care about you.


  1. Jerry W Doyle said:
    “… and to point their rifle at you and tell you to keep working or they’ll shoot.”

    Little doubt exists that some employees’ allegations against the company are exaggerated, embellished and perhaps outright fabricated. Inherent within their anger, though, lies the truth somewheres.

    It amazes me how investigatory entities in our country will travel to China to scour employees’ working conditions within Apple contractors’ manufacturing plants, but ignore American citizens at home who seem to have similar complaints relative to poor, abused and dangerous working conditions.

    Amazon is own by the same man who owns the WP. Where are the WP undercover investigatory workers? Where are the NYTs’ investigatory teams?

    May 5, 2019
  2. David Drinkwater said:
    “Your co workers come from all walks of life. From people who are just out of highschool to people on house arrest, drunks, druggies, felons, they’re all here. Amazon exploits people for labor and they don’t care because they always know people will be desperate for a job. Where PHL7 is it’s not exactly a thriving economy and there’s plenty of people in need of work.”

    I think this is the root cause of the problem in the “interviews” that are presented here. I have a friend whose job is to open Fulfillment Centers for Amazon. I cannot imagine that he would work in a place that matches the descriptions given here, but while he was living and working in Newcastle, Delaware , he also described the place as hell on earth for him. That was also a “PHL” facility (named, as many FCs are, for the airport they are near).

    May 5, 2019
  3. Fred Stein said:
    Two points:
    1) Those indicted must be pretty smart to pull this off, but lacking in judgement because the consequences far outweigh the benefit. Too bad they did not apply their smarts to advancing their education and get better jobs.

    2) Philip, I’m concerned about segueing from a factual story to cherry picking unvetted complaints. The “point a rifle at you” sounds pretty suspicious. Warehouse jobs can’t be very good. They need tight controls to prevent theft. Sadly there are too many workers that are exploited, especially entry level and undocumented. Here is a list of 18 from USA today, https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2018/06/15/worst-companies-to-work-for-employee-reviews/35812171/

    May 5, 2019
    • “Philip, I’m concerned about segueing from a factual story to cherry picking unvetted complaints. The “point a rifle at you” sounds pretty suspicious.”

      I take your point about unvetted. But the complaints weren’t “cherry picked”—at least not by me. They were voted “most useful” by whoever reads these things.

      May 5, 2019
  4. Steven Noyes said:

    While I have little love for Amazon and have heard enough first hand comments from friends that have worked in their fulfillment centers to believe the spirt of reviews if not the specifics (these reviews are mostly hyperbole IMO but do paint a sad depressive environment), I don’t understand your comment:

    “This story got me wondering what it would be like to handle $500 Apple Watches for $15 an hour at a warehouse like that. ”

    There are millions of jobs around the world where the value goods and services handled by various people are in far excess of the people handling them. It is not unique to Amazon. The only justification the employees have is greed, envy and resentment.

    Reminds me of three other dark emotions cautions by a wise sage:

    “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

    May 5, 2019
    • Peter Kropf said:
      I reviewed many evaluations on indeed.com and my assessment is that a large majority of them report fair to very good workplace satisfaction.

      The 3 1-star examples provided are much worse than anything I read in reading about 30 reports.

      May 6, 2019

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