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Who Moved…I Mean Stole My Cheese?

Who Moved…I Mean Stole My Cheese?

When one thinks of “high-risk” foods, what comes to mind are things like palm oil-laden cookies, trans fat-rich doughnuts, or high-sodium vehicles like corn chips seemingly manufactured to create arterial blockages. All of which are certainly high-risk in a certain respect, but cheese, well cheese is high risk in an entirely different sense of being high risk. Seemingly cheese has been labeled a “high risk food” not because of its high fat, or even sodium, content, but because cheese has become prime target for shoplifters worldwide. While a considerable amount of food is stolen around the globe every waking moment of the day, cheese tops the chart as the most stolen food in the world.

I am having a difficult time believing this, considering a wheel of cheese seems a rather cumbersome item to stuff down your pants or squirrel away in your purse, whereas chocolate is relatively compact, expensive, and perfectly proportioned for quick theft. Still somebody is moving the cheese out of the store without paying a dime for it, and the UK seems to have suffered greatly at the hands of cheese thieves. The U.K.’s Center For Retail Research, which surveyed 1,187 retailers representing more than 250,000 retail outlets across 43 countries, found that 4% of cheese went missing from store shelves, and with an annual increase of stolen retail food items by 6.6% since June 2010, you can be sure more and more cheese will be lifted in the years to come.

No word yet on whether these cheese thieves are part of an organized ring funneling ill-gotten goods to some underground syndicate (some theories put the blame on employees exploiting their easy access to cheese). Maybe they are just hungry cheese lovers, financially strapped, and unwilling to pay upwards of $17.99 per lb. for a cave aged Gruyere. Either way, cheese is disappearing and retailers, as well as producers, are paying dearly for it.

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

71 comments

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8:12PM PST on Dec 18, 2012

Some low-lifes have stolen powdered baby formula, because even though it is bulky to steal, they can get a good price for it reselling it...

8:44AM PST on Dec 18, 2012

Thank you

10:22AM PDT on Oct 20, 2012

is there a follow-up yet?

8:56AM PDT on Oct 10, 2012

Thanks for the article. I can't understand anyone who steals anything.

8:59AM PDT on Sep 24, 2012

Oh and if anyone is feeling sympathy for the thief in my previous comment, I should add that the guy is not starving, he is morbidly obese (probably from all the stolen cheese he eats).

8:58AM PDT on Sep 24, 2012

It does happen - I'm appalled to say that a relative's girlfriend's brother does this, justifying themselves by saying that they can't afford £4.50 for a block of cheese, so they steal it! Er, whatever happened to 'if you can't afford something, you go without'?!

12:52PM PDT on Aug 19, 2012

How mellow, drab and pedestrian my life has become. Here I am in my 56th year and I have shop lifted anything, Nada. Having never had a fevered brow pushing the cart down the grocery lane or inching towards the exit in a Cheese Shoppe with beads of perspiration dripping slowly and "tattle tail-'lingly" down my nose...while dreaming of cheddar ice cream the newest invention about to cause a global craze in the latest taste fad.

Yet there are obviously those who engage in cheesy felony, some get away with it, sneaking their bric a brac out the door while fool hardly ones boldly scamper out with the Limburger and are promptly apprehended, led by their nose and sentenced to Cottage Confinement in the boonies with cheese jail bars facilitating an easy escape in hot weather. When it melts, out comes the file, keys and fake ID.

9:48AM PDT on Aug 19, 2012

most supermarkets have free sampling... why steal???

9:09AM PDT on Aug 19, 2012

How about that penguin who used a glove as a chicken disguise, or that dog who was trying to convert all the sheep to dog food? The stove thing on the moon had plenty of cheese, and the Techno Trousers don't need any.

I avoid theft from the grocery stores because I understand how narrow their profit margins are. I'll eat legitimate samples and buy from discount racks, but I don't have any motivation to steal, even 'just a wedge of cheese'.

10:37PM PDT on Jul 14, 2012

Look at the price..like gold.

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