Just Shoplifting, Thank You

On a recent afternoon, inside a large Manhattan supermarket, I tried to steal 50 items. Rather, I imagined trying to steal them. In my hand was a shopping list, a printout of the Food Marketing Institute’s “Top 50 Most Shoplifted Items” list, and I wanted to find out what made these items so hot.

Many, like batteries and tourist-friendly Kodak 200 film, had good resale value. Almost everything else jumped out for two reasons: The items were pocket-sized, and they were pricey. Advil, in its many forms, made the list seven times (including the top two spots); razor blades six.

Interestingly, no food was on the list, unless you count Similac powder, the baby formula that made the top 10 twice despite the fact a single container is the size of a coffee can. Apparently, the cost ($19 a case) makes the challenge of getting it under your shirt worthwhile.

Then there were those items that made the list purely for their embarrassment potential. Preparation H showed up three times. Trojan condoms and the E.P.T. Pregnancy Test were on it, too. When I finally had to ask a stock boy for my last item, I understood. As we made the slow walk to aisle 5, neither one of us saying a word, I knew right then that, though I wasn’t a thief by nature, I could never sit through a “price check on Vagistat!”

10 Most Frequently Shoplifted Items
  1. Advil Tablets (50 count)
  2. Advil Tablets (100 count)
  3. Aleve Tablets (100 count)
  4. E.P.T. Pregnancy Test (single)
  5. Gillette Sensor (10 count)
  6. Kodak 200 Film (24 exposures)
  7. Similac Infant Formula w/ Iron (case)
  8. Similac Infant Formula w/ Iron (1 can)
  9. Preparation H Suppositories (12 count)
  10. Primatene Tablets (12 count)