A recent study by Check Point Software Technologies has revealed that a pretty significant number of Europeans are leaving their jobs with more than their personal belongings in a cardboard box. In fact, a surprising level of petty theft and straight up larceny seems to be the norm.
No, people aren't nicking computers and fax machines on the way out of the office, but thanks to memory sticks, employers are looking to increase their value by bringing confidential or other important documents along for the ride.
For whatever reason an employee leaves his or her job, they simply must abide by the rules of employment by which they agreed to abide.
We simply can't be judge, jury, and mediator and decide that an appropriate severance package from a soon-to-be-ex-employer is to steal sensitive information or anything else that isn't in the public domain.
Contrary to oft-held belief, contributing to a project doesn't make the project your property. I've worked with people who have brought internal documents or white papers with them because they felt entitled to it since they wrote it or contributed. Most employment contracts state that anything created for the company during tenure remains property of the company.
Additionally, besides showing an unattractive unethical side, you run the risk of offending or alarming a future employee who is wondering how on earth you obtained some of the resources that you're willing to provide.
So, let's be reasonable about this – when you leave a company, leave the memory stick at home and just stick to hording notebooks, pens, and other mundane office supplies!