These Are the 13 Things People Steal From Grocery Stores All the Time

You’re not a thief, are you? We hate to tell you, but maybe you are. You might not think much of swiping a sugar packet at the restaurant, but they’re some of the little things almost everyone takes and don’t think about twice. It’s not as brazen as taking the curtains from your hotel room, but it’s still stealing. Grocery stores dominate the list of the most-loved retailers in America, but they’re not immune to shoplifting.

You’ll never guess which 13 items people steal from grocery stores all the time. (We seriously don’t know how they get out the door with item No. 3.)

13. Cigarettes

Man smoking a cigarette

Man smoking a cigarette | Studio

  • If your grocery store carries cigarettes, someone is stealing them.

Cigarettes are unhealthy and destroy your body in several ways, and most stores that sell them keep them behind the counter. Still, they show up as one of the most frequently stolen items out there, according to a report from Clark. What we can’t figure out is how they do it.

Next: Stealing this item gives shoplifters the fuel they need to outrun store security.

12. Energy drinks

Fit brunette drinking energy drink at the gym

A woman drinking energy drink at the gym |

  • These drinks are unhealthy, but people don’t care about the side effects.

Between Red Bull, Monster, Rockstar, 5-hour Energy, and others, there’s an energy drink for every taste. Even though they’re some of the most unhealthy beverages around, people steal them all the time, according to Clark.

Next: Perhaps people are fighting the rising cost of healthcare by shoplifting these products?

11. Over-the-counter medicine


Over-the-counter medicines are targets for shoplifters. | Artisteer/iStock/Getty Images

  • Allergy and pain relief are frequently stolen.

Blue Water Credit cites a National Retail Federation study showing Advil, Claritin, and weight loss drugs are some of the most commonly stolen items. Teeth-whitening strips and pregnancy tests are other health-related items people steal from grocery stores all the time.

NextChefs with sticky fingers might be walking off with the next item on our list. 

10. Spices


Expensive spices are one of the items people steal from grocery stores all the time. |

  • Stolen rate: 1.97%

If you know how much spices cost, then you might understand why people take them from grocery stores instead of buying them. Not only do spices cost a lot, but they’re a total rip-off at grocery store prices. Most spice containers are small enough to conceal, too, which makes them more alluring targets. According to a Global Retail Theft Barometer report, nearly 2% of spices are stolen.

Next: This next product might help thieves conceal their identity.

9. Cosmetics

Makeup cosmetics

Makeup and cosmetics. | Yuriy_K/iStock/Getty Images

  • Stolen rate: 2.0%

Makeup and cosmetics companies lose up to 2% of sales to shoplifting each year, according to a Business Insurance Quotes report. Similar to spices, most cosmetics are easy to conceal and steal from grocery stores that have thousands of products on the shelves. We’ll see products similar to cosmetics in just a minute.

Next: We find this one hard to believe.

8. Seafood


Despite the smell, people routinely steal seafood at the store. | Lisovskaya/Getty Images

  • Stolen rate: 2.28%

Most seafood leaves a lingering and pungent scent, but it’s one thing people steal from grocery stores all the time, which we find hard to believe. Football player Jameis Winston is a famous seafood shoplifter, but apparently, he’s not the only one doing it.

Next: Another beauty product flies off shelves illegally.

7. Razor blades

Twin blade razors

Razors are prime targets. | Target

  • Stolen rate: 2.70%

Disposal razorblades are small yet expensive, just like makeup, which makes them prime targets for shoplifters. According to Adweek, 2.70% of razors end up in shoppers’ pockets instead of on the checkout line conveyer belt.

Next: A food so delicious shoplifters can’t help themselves.

6. Cheese

Wheel of Gouda cheese

Shoplifters love stealing cheese from the grocery store. | Ozgur Coskun/iStock/Getty Images Plus

  • Stolen rate: 2.76%

Cheese is delicious, and there are hundreds of great cheeses out there, so we’re not surprised to see it make this list. Maybe shoplifters don’t want to pay to eat their way around the world.

Next: Let’s swing by the frozen section.

5. Fully-cooked meat

Pre-cooked frozen breakfast sausages. | MikeyGen73/iStock/Getty Images

  • Stolen rate: 2.86%

Frozen chicken tenders and breakfast sausages fall into the fully-cooked meat category, and they’re items people like to steal from grocery stores. It can’t be easy walking out of the store with a big bag of frozen chicken, but close to 3% of these items are stolen every year, according to the GRTB reports.

Next: This is the opposite of a shocker.

4. Alcohol

alcohol bottles

Grocery store shoplifters target alcohol all the time. | iStock/Getty Images

  • Stolen rate: 2.95%

Top-shelf liquor, imported wine, and craft beer are some of the most expensive consumables you can buy, which explains why people steal them from grocery stores all the time. The United States and North America are where this kind of theft happens the most. The 2.95% rate in America is nearly 0.5% more than the average and the highest in the world by 0.1%.

Next: How do shoplifters get it out the door?

3. Baby formula

Powdered milk or infant formula

Powdered infant formula is high on the shoplifted list. | Dima Sobko/iStock/Getty Images

  • Stolen rate: 3.10%

A container of baby formula is bulky and hard to hide, but it’s one of the items people steal from grocery stores on a regular basis. We’re not sure how shoplifters get the baby formula out the front door without being seen, but they make it out 3.10% of the time.

Next: There’s more than one way to steal this item.

1. Fresh meat (TIE)

Buyer woman chooses chopped meat in a shop

Fresh meat at the supermarket. | sergeyryzhov/Getty Images

  • Stolen rate: 3.60%

When you picture a shoplifter, you probably envision a person stuffing items into a shirt or a large bag, but that’s only part of it. According to The Atlantic, self-checkout stands open opportunities for thieves to make off with merchandise by switching price tags and other unscrupulous tactics. Expensive fresh meats are prime targets. It’s not shoplifting in the traditional sense, but it negatively skews the numbers.

Next: The negative press doesn’t prevent people stealing these items.

1. Candy (TIE)

It seems that shoplifters love sweets. | iStock/Getty Images

  • Stolen rate: 3.60%

Sugar addiction is real, and it’s killing the afflicted. Regardless of the bad press, candy and other sweets are items people steal from grocery stores all the time at a 3.60% clip.

Next: Find out how much money stores lose to shoplifters every year.

The real cost of shoplifting

Customers shop at an Aldi grocery store

A certain frozen item is a favorite among grocery store shoplifters. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

  • Shoplifting is a bigger problem than you realize.

Just because you’ve never stolen anything from the grocery store doesn’t mean shoplifting isn’t a massive problem. The 2015 Global Retail Theft Barometer report reveals just how bad it is:

  • $123.3 billion in losses globally
  • Retailers in the United States lost $36.7 billion, No. 1 overall.
  • 1.42% of all product is stolen around the world
  • The U.S. sees 1.97% of merchandise stolen every year.

The average shoplifter makes off with more than $798 worth of merchandise, according to the National Retail Federation.

Next: You’ll never guess which businesses suffer the most.

Grocery stores have it bad, but they’re not the worst

low prices at Wegmans

People steal from grocery stores more often than you realize. | Wegmans Food Markets

  • Supermarkets lose 1.35% of inventory to theft.

Grocery stores have razor-thin margins, so losing 1.35% of inventory to shoplifting affects the bottom line, but four types of other retailers have it worse:

  • Pharmacies and drugstores: 2.25%
  • Specialty apparel: 1.98%
  • Electronics/appliances: 1.90%
  • Department stores: 1.80%

Next: And you’ll never guess who steals from stores.

The demographics of shoplifting

winona ryder

Actress Winona Ryder — Shoplifter. | Steve Grayson-Pool/Getty Images

  • It’s not just poor people stealing out of need.

According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, there are more shoplifters out there than you realize:

  • About 1 in 11 people shoplift in their lifetime.
  • People steal because they want something, not because they need something.
  • Shoplifting is more common among well-educated and financially stable people, according to The Washington Post, citing a Columbia University study.
  • Only about 3% of shoplifters do it as organized crime.

Proving that even rich people like to steal, Winona Ryder is one of many celebrities who’ve been busted for shoplifting.

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