A current Slate article asks why meat is the most shoplifted item in America today. Maybe because it is the most nutritionally dense item in America today, so it runs one’s nutrition per theft percentages up.
Whatever the case, I can’t imagine sashaying out of a grocery store with a chuck roast in my pocket. Were I of the larcenous bent, I’m pretty certain that I could find something a tad less noticeable and easier to hide than a chunk of meat.
Every supermarket detective—or “loss-prevention specialist,” as many prefer to be called—has an offbeat meatlifting story to share. There’s the one about the lady who seemingly defied the laws of physics by stuffing an entire HoneyBaked Ham in her purse, the man discovered with a trove of filet mignons in his Jockey shorts, or the meth addict who explained that his dealer, exhibiting an atypical benevolent streak, had agreed to accept prime rib in lieu of cash.
Yet most shoppers who use the five-finger discount in the meat aisle are neither so brazen nor so desperate. Carts brimming with groceries, they’ll stealthily slide a single tenderloin or T-bone into a coat pocket, then hit the checkout line alongside their nonlarcenous peers. In this way, millions of pounds of beef, pork, and veal disappear from supermarket shelves each year. Meatlifting is a grave problem for food retailers: According to the Food Marketing Institute, meat was the most shoplifted item in America’s grocery stores in 2005. (It barely edged out analgesics and was a few percentage points ahead of razor blades and baby formula.)