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Inflation causes a spike in food theft from stores across Europe


On February 12, 2022, a 70-year-old retiree, in the grip of great financial difficulties, was arrested in the suburbs of Athens trying to steal from a supermarket of the German brand Lidl, a hard-discounter. She had hidden in her bag meat and cheese for an amount of 40 euros. The arrest provoked a movement of solidarity, several stores of the brand were vandalized and the company ended up withdrawing its complaint against the septuagenarian.

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In February 2023, in Spain, the Basque television channel ETB devoted a live broadcast to soaring food prices in stores. The journalist stands in front of the checkout counters of a supermarket in San Sebastián, when, in the background, viewers observe a young man in jogging, his pockets bulging, ringing the security gates, before being chased by a cashier and a security guard. On Twitter, some wondered if it was “the young man who [volait] or the supermarket with its prices”.

London, in a Coop supermarket. The 5.99 pound steak (6.80 euros) is placed in a huge and intimidating secure plastic box, bearing the inscription in large black letters: “protected by GPS”. You have to go see the only cashier in the store – all the other checkouts are automatic – to unlock the precious product. “We are obliged to put locks, because there is theft all the time, she confides. But that doesn’t really stop people. Often they pick up a few boxes and just run out. It’s hard to stop them. »

In Berlin, in the popular district of Gesundbrunnen, the scene is almost similar, again in a Lidl supermarket. A yellow label jumps out in the butcher’s and fishmonger’s fridge: “secure item”. Several products are thus protected: a fillet of salmon from Norway at 9.99 euros, first-price ground beef, beef steak from Uruguay, etc. ” These are [ceux] which are stolen particularly often, explains an employee. Everything is stolen here, especially since prices started to rise. »

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From Greece to Spain, via the United Kingdom and Germany, without forgetting France, food thefts are multiplying throughout Europe. The inflation shock, which initially came from energy prices, has now spread to all food products. In the euro zone, food inflation reached 15% over one year in February. France is in the middle, at 14.5%, Germany at 22%, the Baltic countries between 25% and 30%.

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