On a recent afternoon, inside a large Manhattan supermarket, I tried to steal 50 items. Rather, I imagined trying to steal them. In my hand was a shopping list, a printout of the Food Marketing Institute’s “Top 50 Most Shoplifted Items” list, and I wanted to find out what made these items so hot.
Many, like batteries and tourist-friendly Kodak 200 film, had good resale value. Almost everything else jumped out for two reasons: The items were pocket-sized, and they were pricey. Advil, in its many forms, made the list seven times (including the top two spots); razor blades six.
Interestingly, no food was on the list, unless you count Similac powder, the baby formula that made the top 10 twice despite the fact a single container is the size of a coffee can. Apparently, the cost ($19 a case) makes the challenge of getting it under your shirt worthwhile.
Then there were those items that made the list purely for their embarrassment potential. Preparation H showed up three times. Trojan condoms and the E.P.T. Pregnancy Test were on it, too. When I finally had to ask a stock boy for my last item, I understood. As we made the slow walk to aisle 5, neither one of us saying a word, I knew right then that, though I wasn’t a thief by nature, I could never sit through a “price check on Vagistat!”10 Most Frequently Shoplifted Items
- Advil Tablets (50 count)
- Advil Tablets (100 count)
- Aleve Tablets (100 count)
- E.P.T. Pregnancy Test (single)
- Gillette Sensor (10 count)
- Kodak 200 Film (24 exposures)
- Similac Infant Formula w/ Iron (case)
- Similac Infant Formula w/ Iron (1 can)
- Preparation H Suppositories (12 count)
- Primatene Tablets (12 count)