More Americans are shoplifting groceries and baby formula

Incidents of shoplifting have increased during the pandemic, as widespread unemployment and threadbare safety net programs have pushed basic necessities including food, baby formula, and personal hygiene products out of reach for many Americans. Supermarket managers are reporting an uptick in thefts of groceries like bread, meat, and rice, as some shoppers say that they have little choice but to steal in the face of hunger and prolonged job loss. These dire circumstances are all the more enraging for many, who feel that the pandemic has disproportionately benefited large retailers—which are logging record earnings—while leaving many workers without strong economic safeguards. As one woman who shoplifted during the pandemic told The Washington Post: “Let’s just say I don’t feel too bad about taking $15 or $20 of stuff from Whole Foods when Jeff Bezos is the richest man on Earth.”

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