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Tipsheet

Manhattan Drug Store Locks Down Its SPAM Due to Soaring Inflation and Spiking Crime

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

In something that sounds more like a call-and-response comedy routine about how bad crime has gotten in New York City, at least one location of the Duane Reade drug store chain in the Big Apple has resorted to locking up SPAM in a bid to dissuade shoplifters.

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Yep, the Minnesota-made canned pork product is apparently so valuable and frequently targeted that the Duane Reade at the Port Authority transit hub has locked each individual can inside a plastic box. According to The New York Post, the delicacy for some (and butt of jokes for many) retails for just $3.99, but soaring inflation and spiking crime has made even SPAM unsafe on store shelves.

It seems unreal, yet there's plenty of proof circulating on the internet, featuring SPAM secured in cases which require a magnetic key to unlock — the type of anti-theft measure normally reserved for electronics that retail for more than $4. 

In addition to SPAM, the drug store has also taken to locking down its Celebrity brand cooked canned ham and Starkist Tuna in a somewhat laughable response to what is a serious problem — even at a store that's just a couple blocks away from Times Square. As crime stats for the Manhattan neighborhood where the Duane Reade is located show, "petit larceny" complaints are now up more than 50 percent over the same period in 2021.

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The Post noted that Duane Reade is not alone in taking seemingly extreme measures to protect low-value inventory: "As prices and crime skyrocket, New York City stores have taken to locking up staples like toothpaste and soap to prevent crooks from stealing and then hawking the products on the sidewalk or online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay."

As it turns out, the attempt to deter shoplifting isn't all that effective:

Employees at the store said thefts have been surging over the past two-plus years, with one estimating a minimum of four shoplifters every evening shift.

“I don’t think they stop anything,” Iggy, 21, a store clerk, said of the anti-theft cases. “It’s security theater. If you really needed it, you would stomp on it.” 

The employee’s complaints were prescient: At around 7 p.m. on Thursday, a man in a black tank top and gray sweatpants had an employee unlock the glass case for a $38 electric razor, and then bolted with the appliance past a yellow-shirted security guard and out the door.

With inflation out of control — the consumer price index spiked 9.1 percent in June compared to a year ago, even as President Biden this week refused to acknowledge the nation is in a recession despite the economy contracting two quarters in a row — emboldened thieves have found a ready market for discounted stolen goods among recession-weary consumers.

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With Manhattan's woke "progressive prosecutor" D.A. Alvin Bragg, it's unlikely that crime, especially infractions involving the theft of a $4 product, will be taken seriously. Nor will inflation likely be tamped down in the near future as President Joe Biden and Democrats continue to increase spending and hike taxes after a U.S. recession became official.

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