Even inexpensive meat like Spam is now being locked up in New York City because inflation and criminality have grown so severe. The New York Post reports that the shelf-stable item, which costs $3.99 per can at Duane Reade in the Port Authority bus depot, is now kept in plastic, anti-theft containers.
One cashier smiled as she used a magnet to free a can of Spam from its cage, exclaiming, “I’ve never seen that before!” The shock was shared by the staff, local customers, and tourists that the famous blue-and-yellow cans are now stored under lock and key. Jenny Kenny, a tourist from Louisville, KY said she knew about the ongoing crime waves hitting cities like New York and San Francisco, but still couldn’t believe “so many things in boxes,” adding that “Some of these things are pretty ridiculous.”
Stores in New York City have started locking up necessities like toothpaste and soap to stop thieves from stealing them and selling them on the street or on online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay as prices and crime soar. However, some customers were perplexed as to why more expensive items, such as $5.49 cans of Amy’s soup, remained unfettered while Spam and $1.89 cans of StarKist tuna were covered in plastic. Local shopper Dennis Snow said, “To put Spam in a cage is stupid — and kind of insulting to the customers that would buy it.” He explained that he doesn’t think Spam is being stolen and resold for drugs but that homeless people require quick and easy meals.
According to store employees, theft has increased over the past two years, with one estimating at least four shoplifters every evening shift. Empowered thieves have discovered a ready market for discounted stolen goods among recession-weary consumers as a result of skyrocketing inflation. The consumer price index spiked 9.1% in June year over year as President Biden refuses to acknowledge the country is in a recession.
Jim Snee, the CEO of Hormel, informed investors last month that pricing for their legacy product will rise in late July to reflect increasing expenses for meat, packaging, and shipping. Duane Reade’s owner, Walgreens, declined to comment on exactly why Spam was locked up at this specific store but noted that anti-theft devices are installed “in response to theft data.” Through July 24, there were 1,771 Petit Larceny reports filed with the NYPD Midtown South Precinct, which covers the Port Authority bus terminal, up 52% from the same time last year.