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Shoplifting Boom Occurs as Grocery Prices Rise in Canada

Grocers are reporting higher rates of theft at their stores as costs associated with livestock, transportation, and labour rise around the world.

“I've seen it all. I've seen it all,” says Shalina Davis, a clerk at Le Marché Esposito – a grocery store in Monkland Village in Montreal.

She says someone recently bagged fifty bucks of groceries at once and headed out the door.

“The (taxi’s) door was open and everything. He just sprints into the taxicab and takes off.”

Fruit Manager Joe Isernia remembers one woman who “filled a whole carriage with vegetables, fruits, grocery items,” and put a case of beer at the bottom.

And this is at 10 o’clock in the morning, ripping off a case of beer – I couldn’t believe it,” said Cashier Cathy Cowan.

“Three things of romaine lettuce in a bag? Seven bucks. And the highest we've ever charged is $3.99,” said Cowan.

But Charlebois says a lot of people aren't boosting steak from the supermarket to eat, they're looking to resell it, likely to a restaurant.

“If you're stealing meat from a grocer, your aim is food service,” he said.

Charlebois says that most large grocers can handle shoplifting losses, but it’s not so easy for smaller shops.

“The average grocery store would probably see three to four thousand dollars retail stolen a week,” he said.

“With a lower (profit) margin, you can't just pretend it doesn't exist, so a lot of managers will take matters into their own hands because police won't consider these cases to be significant.”

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