Skip to main content

The most stolen items in the world may come as a surprise

| Crime and security

From designer handbags to Netflix – the items that are stolen are an interesting mix of high-end luxury items and every day commodities.

Bic lighters, Bic pens, shot glasses, hotel soap, toilet paper and Netflix.

Baby formula

In the US baby formula costs $25 or more and babies can go through eight or ten cans a month. The financial strain of that, plus everything else that babies need, can lead desperate parents to steal the formula from a store or to buy it for less from dodgy sources who stole it.

Locally EWN spoke to 15 store managers from Spar, Shoprite and Pick n Pay, all of whom said they keep their formula stock locked up and have done so for years.

“People used to go to the clinics for the infant formulas. Now, the government has stopped that, and ever since, the theft of that formula escalated tremendously,” one manager is quoted as saying.

According to another manager it’s probably not the mothers themselves who are stealing formula, but rather syndicates who re-sell the product.

Cheese is the most shoplifted food item in the world



While some of what the criminologist Ron Clarke termed Craved items (Concealable, Removable, Available, Valuable, Enjoyable and Disposable), such as DVDs and bottles of expensive alcohol are protected with security tags, supermarket cheese is rarely given the same protection, reported The Guardian.

Most shoplifted items in the US

Retail theft is more common than many people realize. There are even organized shoplifting syndicates in the US that steal millions of dollars worth of products. The crime of shoplifting costs US stores $13 billion a year, which often causes the retailers to increase their prices to cover the loss.


In recent years, meat has emerged as one of the top items stolen from stores. Experts note that filet mignon and other pricey cuts are typically targeted.


Razors are the second most stolen item in the US and also rank highly when looking at global shoplifting trends. The price plays into it, as well as the ease with which small packages can be hidden. The Mach products from Gillette are among the most taken razors since they are relatively expensive and high in demand. Men’s razors have ranked among the top shoplifted items in the world since at least 2003.


Like razors, these can be expensive and they come in small packages. That makes them easier to take and more desirable, whether for resale or personal use. One of the top beauty products being shoplifted is Oil of Olay’s Regenerist anti-aging line. Most thieves go for the more expensive make-up or hair care brands to either use or sell, causing cosmetics brands to lose as much as 2% of sales to shoplifting.


People steal alcohol when they are addicted and can’t afford to keep buying it or underage drinkers, who can’t legally buy alcohol, may steal it.

Because of people who may not be able to afford their booze habit and teenagers, alcohol is one of the things most often stolen from stores. People who are already drunk often go for lower-end brands, but the expensive brands are also stolen.

Organized retail crime

According to the National Retail Federation organized retail crime (ORC) is still a rampant problem that can have a catastrophic effect on a store’s bottom line. Organized retail criminals favour items that can be resold quickly. Here are some of the high-end items they prefer.

  • Designer clothing
  • Designer handbags
  • High-end alcohol
  • Jewelry
  • Teeth whitening strips
Pin It

Related Articles

Steps to stop shoplifting in your business

By: News24 The police have noted with concern a recent spate of shoplifting incidents. Shop owners and assistants are urged to adhere to the following safety hints.

Beware of scam artists during the festive seaso...

The National Consumer Commission (NCC) says it has noticed a spike in schemes and scams that leave South Africans out of pocket, including con artists impersonating companies, investment and financial scams and pyramid schemes.

Shoprite crackdown: Criminals get 24 life sente...

By:  Nick Wilson – News24 Shoprite, SA’s largest retailer, says it has dealt a major blow against crime over the past three years, securing over 1 700 years of prison time – including 24 life sentences – for criminals.

Top scams to watch out for as you enjoy this ye...

Despite the continued reports about the tough economic environment facing South African consumers and the fact that disposable income is steadily decreasing, South Africans are still enjoying Black Friday sales.

South Africans play a greater role in becoming ...

The South African fraud landscape is becoming increasingly risky as fraudsters and scammers look to target individuals with highly sophisticated scams in an environment where it is becoming increasingly difficult for lawmakers and authorities to b...