Sun. Sep 24th, 2023


Theft from grocery stores is a big issue for retailers these days. But with food inflation eating into our budgets, there seems to be very little appetite for empathy.


About a week ago, there was a story about shoplifting and theft from major Canadian grocery retailers. It was written by Professor Sylvain Charlebois with the Food Distribution Lab at Dalhousie University. 

The Food Professor is a busy guy on the media circuit. He’s been sharing his opinions and research with television, radio and newspaper reporters for years and last week he wrote, “You can expect more cameras, more surveillance, and more security in general as your favourite grocer won’t have a choice.”

He says grocery stores are losing between $2,000 and $5,000 a week to theft and he says that’s an estimate because security guards usually deal with the people who they catch and police aren’t always involved. 

That’s something I saw for myself yesterday. 

I’d popped into the grocery store for some milk and bread and was juggling my armful of items as I was leaving. I’d stopped by the front doors, just as a woman beside me was stopped and confronted by staff.

The alarm at the door had gone off. It’s happened to all of us at one point or another. Someone forgot to remove or disable a shoplifting prevention tag. Most of the time, I don’t think most people even think about it. They just keep on walking because they’ve gone through the checkout and of course, they’ve paid for everything in their bags. 

But this was different. 

This was both aggressive and confrontational.

The woman who was working was adamant that something was in this lady’s bag that she hadn’t paid for and as I was jostling my own purchases to keep from dropping them, it escalated. 

A few items were grabbed out of the bag and the employee said something to the effect of “don’t come back.” But as the lady exited through the main doors, another alarm sounded. Then, there was a tug-of-war with the shopping bag. It didn’t get violent, but it got loud and it got uncomfortable.

I have no idea what was in the bag or what she was being accused of stealing. As I was leaving to walk to my car, a man asked me if I happened to smoke, hoping to snag a smoke I assume. It turns out, he and the woman were together. 

I saw him walking along smokeless with her walking beside, bagless, and for a minute I was going to ask if they needed money for food. I could assume he needed money for cigarettes. And what wrang around in my head, was a tweet from a week ago, “If you see someone stealing from a grocery store: No you didn’t.”

Everyone’s mad at the grocery store owners these days. It’s hard not to get angry when you see how little stuff you get for the large amounts of money you spend and then you see record corporate profits and executive bonuses.

But what’s really tough, is seeing the people who are going hungry because their “already-too-small food budgets” are being whacked away by food inflation. And it may be slowing down, but prices are not going down. They just aren’t increasing at the same rate. 

Charlebois’s column was pointing out how theft ends up costing all of us in the end because prices go up to offset losses. And that some of the thefts are being carried out by employees. I don’t know about that. I’m not saying it’s not true. But we have a minimum wage but no maximum wage. 

And sure, food inflation may be higher in other countries. But it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth when people and their kids are going hungry.


By admin