inflation /

Meat Theft Escalates in Sweden As Food Prices Rise

Store owners are increasing security as economic crisis worsens

Meat thefts are surging in Sweden as rising prices continue to impact people’s ability to feed their families.

Grocery store owners and managers are speaking out about the new wave of theft as Europeans struggle to adjust to worsening economic conditions.

“The thefts have really escalated over the past year,” Willys grocery store manager Andreas Selsborg told the Swedish publication SVT. “We have small thefts almost on a daily basis. And the bigger thefts are sometime a month.”

A separate retailer told SVT that thieves are switching from stealing household goods and other items to food products.

“Absolutely, one thing we have noticed in late autumn is that there has been a move. People do not steal capital goods such as shavers anymore, but they steal meat,” Gustav Johansson, of ICA Supermarket Bromma, told the news outlet.

Johansson added that his store has seen thieves come in and fill an entire backpack full of meat.

“And it’s not just expensive meat but all meat. These are also other goods,” Johansson added. “We stopped a thief a week ago who had taken three boxes of plain butter, which is over a hundred packages of butter. It has also become expensive.”

The impact of coronavirus lockdown policies and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have helped create supply-chain issues and higher energy prices, which are contributing factors to inflation that is spiking food costs.

Extreme weather events have also eroded agriculture, infrastructure, and disrupted work schedules, contributing to supply-chain disruptions and worker shortages.

Year-over-year food inflation for Sweden rose from 1.7 percent to 18.06 percent, as of November 2022.

The overall annual inflation rate in Sweden climbed to 11.5 percent in November, with substantial increases in prices for housing and utilities (17.6 percent), as well as electricity (16.8 percent).

Johansson says that the theft wave is directly connected to the country’s recession and high inflation. He also says that thieves robbing stores come from all walks of life.

“We see ordinary families stealing to wipe out their household treasury but also more organized crime,” he explained.

His shop has started taking strong security measures to protect meat inventory, including locking up meat products behind the delicatessen counter and using both police and security guards. His store now also has a staff member at the door matching receipts to items being taken out of the store.

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