MADRID – Most consumers understand that bottled drinks and the more expensive drugstore products are in secure packaging. However, supermarkets in Spain are now starting to secure cheap products such as bouillon cubes and cat food too.
Chocolate, packets of ham or cans of fish, where the number of thefts has increased, are now also put in lockers that are opened at the checkout. The fact that these products are increasingly stolen is, according to experts, due to the increased price of all foodstuffs, the high electricity costs and fuel prices.
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According to the Spanish Association of Manufacturers and Distributors (AECOC), €1.8 billion is lost every year to shoplifting and supermarket theft. However, the trend has changed and thefts focus on less common items. It is no longer just the most expensive products that the shoplifter or occasional thief focuses on. Now it often concerns products that do not cost more than a few euros. For example Iberian delicacies, chocolate and also coffee capsules.
One of the most curious products under lock and key is ‘Avecrem’. The price does not exceed €3. However, according to La Sexta, some supermarkets have already opted to shield it in lockers. The theft of this spice for soups and sauces has increased, especially in Galicia. According to the police, its colour and consistency make it easy to mix with heroin. Therefore, this chicken stock could well be used to cut drugs. Another reason could be that families, faced with the increase in the price of basic products, are more often opting for chicken soup as an affordable meal.
This form of theft is called ‘property crime’, not because of the amount stolen, but because of the material damage it causes to the businesses that suffer. The penalties for these thefts, for those who do not have a criminal record, are economic fines ranging from 1 to 3 months. That usually translates into the payment of €5-6 per day for a month of work.
This type of theft is fueled by resale, according to police. Products with a certain price are resold for half the price in illegal outlets. As long as this happens, they say, thefts will continue. To counter the situation, supermarkets are proposing to stimulate online sales with offers. In addition, the safety of the products that are sold the most will have to be increased. This assumes an increase in costs for the supermarkets. Each individual security system costs on average around €10.
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