Most stolen item in US stores? Prime beef

Beef Central, 04/01/2012

According to US retail industry research, one in every 11 people who walk through the door of shops are likely to walk back out carrying at least one item he or she did not pay for.

Shoplifting has become a $119 billion problem for retailers annually in the US, and has been exacerbated in recent years by a tightening economic environment, which in turn has resulted in the rise of stealing for not just temptation but needs-based purposes.

US publication Ad Week recently sought the view of store security professionals to assemble a list of the ten most at-risk items. The answers they gave might surprise you.

At the top of the list was prime beef.

“Choice cuts of meat have become a Grade-A target for shoplifters,” Ad Week's report said.

“Many police still believe this is the most common item stolen from grocery stores and supermarkets.”

Between 2009 and 2011, the loss rate for luxury meat had risen by 21pc.

The report also noted that only 3pc of shoplifters were professionals. Most offenders were amateurs or store employees, whose crimes were ones of opportunity.

However, while small in number, organised crime rings still contribute significantly to the problem.

Last year USA today reported that US retailers were encountering increasingly brazen thieves who were stealing steaks and high-end cuts at supermarkets for resale to unscrupulous restaurants and markets.

In one sting operation reported by police, the manager of a Texas supermarket chain reported catching a couple of shoplifters who confessed to selling the meat they had stolen to three local restaurants.

The concerns were not just around the theft but around the safety of consumers who ultimately ate the meat.

"They're watching these guys with this stuff in their pants, and besides being nasty, what's the temperature of the meat?" Sgt. David Socha, who took part in the investigation, said.

To catch out the restaurants involved, the officers took fresh meat to more than 28 restaurants in the area, including the three identified by the captured meat thieves.

None of the 25 restaurants chosen at random touched the meat brought to their back doors and offered at a 50pc discount, but the three who'd been fingered by the shoplifters "bought it again and again and again," Sgt Socha said. In each case it was not just staff involved but managers as well.

After each restaurant had bought more than $1500 worth of stolen meat, making it a felony, police moved in and made arrests.

Joseph LaRocca of the National Retail Federation told the paper that than 95pc of retailers had claimed to have been victims of organised retail crime in 2010.

High value consumable goods that were easily resold were the most commonly stolen items, he said, and that included meat.

AdWeek’s list of the 10 most popular items for shop lifters was:

  1. Filet Mignon
  2. Jamieson (Expensive liquor)
  3. Electric tools
  4. Iphone 4
  5. Gillette Mach 4 razor
  6. Deodorants and body washes
  7. Polo Ralph Lauren (Designer apparel)
  8. Let’s Rock Elmo
  9. Chanel No.5 (Expensive Fragrances)
  10. Nikes


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