Stores: Poor economy hasn't caused increase in shoplifting of groceries

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Despite the poor economy and job market, area supermarkets haven't reported a noticeable increase in shoplifting incidents in which grocery or household items were stolen.

However, on Sunday Cape Girardeau police issued a summons in a shoplifting incident that occurred at Save-A-Lot, 121 S. Sprigg St.

Robert Spears Jr., 53, of Cape Girardeau, was cited for allegedly attempting to smuggle a package of pork spare ribs out of the store by concealing it in his pants.

Store managers say incidents like these are fairly rare.

Schnucks, 19 N. Kings-highway, generally has more problems with shoplifting incidents involving high-end cuts of meat, tobacco products and alcohol -- items with resale value -- than thefts of grocery staples, said co-manager Jon Townsend.

"The highest thefts of food we see are not people stealing because they're hungry," Townsend said.

Schnucks has on occasion reorganized its store layout in certain sections in an attempt to cut down on "shrink," or items lost from shoplifters, Townsend said.

A certain amount of shoplifting is nearly impossible to catch, especially if the offenders are professionals, he said.

"Shrink drives up the cost of goods for everyone. We do our best to minimize it," Townsend said.

From January to November, there were 32 reported incidents of shoplifting in which food or grocery items were taken from Cape Girardeau stores, according to statistics compiled by the Cape Girardeau Police Department.

Items reported stolen during those incidents included frozen pizza, candy, buffet items, stew meat, toaster pastries, pecan pie, energy drinks, 12-packs of soda, cabbage and ice.

Corner Store on Broadway hasn't had any noticeable uptick of shoplifting incidents since the economic downturn, owner Robert Gentry said.

"We've had an incident or two, but nothing noticeable," Gentry said.

Food Giant has also not experienced a recent spike in shoplifting, though it tends to ebb and flow with the cost of certain goods, a manager said.

Save-A-Lot declined to comment.

bdicosmo@semissourian.com

388-3635

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