On Monday, Great Britain got to savor a public apology from Antony Worrall Thompson, who was caught shoplifting from his local supermarket over the holidays. The celebrity chef, whose crimes also include inventing one of the world’s unhealthiest desserts, vowed to seek “treatment” and described his behavior as “stupid and irresponsible.”
But what’s more interesting than a quasi-celebrity caught pilfering (been there, done that)—and of more relevance to Americans, who have never heard of Antony Worrall Thompson—is what he was stealing: cheese. That’s something almost everybody can relate to.
According to the UK’s Centre for Retail Research, cheese is the most shoplifted grocery item on the planet, accounting for 3.09 percent of “shrinkage losses.” (Although in the States, fresh meat, candy, chocolates, and confectionery lead the pack.) Cheese’s indisputable deliciousness is one explanation for the “shrinkage.” Another, the Guardian reports, is its vulnerability. Unlike wine and spirits, which are protected, cheese is easy to remove from shelves and conceal, conforming to what criminologists call CRAVED items—concealable, removable, available, valuable, enjoyable, and disposable.
Just how easy it is to shoplift cheese was made embarrassingly clear last summer when two women (pictured here) were shown on camera stealing a $300 wheel of aged Gouda from an Oregon Whole Foods—with the assistance of a clueless clerk who actually handed them a box to haul it away in. The women, who were never apprehended, looked as gleeful as two Laughing Cows, and really, who could blame them? With store security caught in a Humboldt Fog, cheese doesn’t stand a chance against this ruthless breed of Colby-hearted Muensters. It’s enough to make your blood curdle.
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