While we know that common items like detergent, pregnancy tests, weight loss pills, and diapers, and even baby formula can be popular with shoplifters, stores in Hawaii are facing a new trend in thievery: Cans of Spam are flying off shelves as folks with sticky fingers try to make a quick buck.
The owner of one store next to a bus stop in Honolulu says shoplifters are coming in during busy times, and instead of swiping alcohol — a typical target — he’s noticed they’re grabbing cans of Spam.
“I mean you try to keep an eye on it but if they run you just can’t leave the counter and chase them. So you just got to take the hit,” he told Hawaii News Now.
He’s not alone in this wave of crime against canned meat: Honolulu police say a man lifted an entire case of Spam from another store this month. Police are offering a $1,000 reward in that case.
At a Safeway on Oahu, another customer told KHON-TV that she watched a man grab eight cases of Spam and walk out the door.
And at a store in Ewa Beach, three women were accused of trying to steal 18 cases of Spam last month.
Those stealing the product likely aren’t doing it because they’re hungry, however, but because Spam is very popular in the state, and easy to sell.
“It’s quick cash for quick drug money,” a spokesperson for Institute for Human Services, the largest homeless service provider in Honolulu, told Hawaii News Now.
One expert tells KHON that the uptick in thefts could also be related to a recent law that raised the threshold for felony theft from $300 to $750. This means they can “steal right under that $750 line” without having to face stiffer penalties, Tina Yamaki, president of Retail Merchants of Hawaii, explained to KHON.
As a result, some retailers have started locking up their Spam, she notes, or putting it behind the counter.
“It’s organized retail crime,” she explains. “It’s not like ‘I’m going in to steal Spam to feed my family. I’m going in with a list of things I want to steal.’”