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Swiped: America's Most Stolen Products

Which retail goods are most alluring to professional shoplifters? The list may surprise you.

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Shoplifting crimes usually only make the headlines when a Hollywood actress is caught like a deer in headlights sneaking designer clothes past a knowing security guard, or when the wealthy daughter of the former mayor of New York decides she'd rather not pay for her makeup. But for every celebrity with a mug shot, there's an army of professional thieves walking off unnoticed, stashing millions of dollars in retail goods. Meat is stuffed under skirts. Razor blades are loaded into "boost" bags. Baby formula is taken and resold to unwitting parents or to eager drug dealers who use the powder to cut cocaine. (Story continues below.)

Meat
  • PRNewsFoto/Certified Angus Beef brand
Meat
Shoplifters prefer Certified Angus, and some add fine cheese on the side.
By Justin Rohrlich
Books
"Hipster" Books
By railing against The Man, anti-establishment writers have influenced the theft of their own work.
By Mike Schuster
health products
Drugstore Pills
Professional thieves and shoplifters go for stomach soothers, diet pills, and pain relief.
By Minyanville Staff
Alcohol
Alcohol
Shoplifters reach for the highbrow champagnes or the cheap vodka, but less of everything in between.
By Minyanville Staff
Baby formula
Baby Formula
The business of stealing infant formula is always brisk and sometimes vicious.
By Minyanville Staff
Fancy Men's razors
Razors for Men
Organized crime inflates the cost of your daily shave.
By Ryan Goldberg
Brighton jewelry
Brighton Jewelry
Build a devoted and well-accessorized fan base and the shoplifters will follow.
By Diane Bullock
Cosmetics
Cosmetics
Maybe she's born with it. Maybe she's stealing Maybelline.
By Diane Bullock
Small electronics
Gadgets, Games, and Smartphones
Shoplifters stay up on what's "in" -- and move fast when a product is hot.
By Diane Bullock


Not surprisingly, American stores saw a spike in shoplifting in 2008, when the economy hit a downturn. According to the Global Retail Theft Barometer, produced by the UK-based Center for Retail Research, retail crimes such as shoplifting, employee theft, and supply chain fraud rose 8.8% in the United States, to $42.2 billion, that year. In 2007, retail crimes rose 1.5%.

But at least one US-based survey says that store theft is now on the decline, if only slightly. Early results of the latest National Retail Security Survey were released this summer and showed that retail theft decreased to 1.44% of sales in 2009, down from 1.51% in 2008. That meant that total losses rang up to $33.5 billion last year, compared to $36.5 billion in 2008, say authors of the survey, a joint project of the National Retail Federation and the University of Florida.

The modest decline is good news for American families who ultimately pick up the tab for stolen goods. Shoplifting is estimated to cost the average US household some $200 to $300 annually in higher prices. It's also an encouraging change for honest citizens who every year lose out on tens of millions in uncollected tax revenues because of retail theft.

So what are shoplifters nabbing, and why? Are cultural trends mirrored by criminal activity? Here Minyanville presents those objects that are most wanted -- and least paid-for -- across the country. Click on an image above to start reading.
No positions in stocks mentioned.

The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.

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