Cheese: the world’s most stolen food

(Thinkstock)Cheese has been labeled a “high-risk” food. Not because it’s addictive, high in fat, or dangerous to waistlines everywhere, but because it’s the most stolen food item in the world.

According to the Centre for Retail Research, cheese ranks as the third-most stolen item in supermarkets after razorblades and alcohol.

Almost four percent of Europe’s cheeses end up stolen. Globally, the rate is a bit more than three  percent.

Even in hard economic times, the rate of cheese thefts surpasses that of candy bars and gum — often assumed as shoplifters’ go-to items — of which only 2.78 percent are stolen.

"Compared to the 2010 figures, loss among the high-risk food lines has shot up by more than the global average, evidence that they are increasingly being targeted by shoplifters,” said Neil Matthews, vice president of the retail security firm Checkpoint Systems, in an interview with Sky News.

Other “high-risk” foods on the list: fresh meat, chocolate, alcohol, seafood and infant formula.

But why cheese?

Dr. Joshua Bamfield, director of the Centre for Retail Research, says there’s resale value in cheese, making it a lucrative business venture for small-time crooks.

"It's not just grannies saying, ‘I need some cheese I'll just go and steal it.’ A lot of the theft is for resale and a lot of this cheese will be resold into other markets or to restaurants,” Bamfield told Huffington Post.

Cases in point:

In Michigan, two men were arrested after stealing more than $1,000 in provolone cheese.

In Bend, Oregon, shoplifters brazenly “rolled out” — in a shopping cart — three wheels of cheese from a Whole Foods: one of Gouda, two of bleu cheese. Their loot was worth nearly $600.

On Toronto’s Danforth Avenue, shop owners keep an eye out for cheese-stealers:

“We have a huge problem with people stealing cheese and taking it to the bar for when they have a beer,” Munir Ahadi, of Fresh Express Fine Foods, which is open 24-hours a day, told OnTheDanforth.ca. His cheese selections are found in the middle of the store, surrounded by bright lights and a video camera.

It’s an easy target: Cheese is easy to conceal, profitable to resell, and — let’s face it — super-delicious.  This only applies to Denmark.

As a cheese-lover, I want to keep my local cheese retailer in business. Pay for your cheddar, and then make a perfect grilled cheese sandwich in honor of legal indulgences.

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