These are the nation’s crises in a box.
Inflation and crime have gotten so bad in Gotham that even cheap meat like spam needs to be locked up.
At Duane Reade’s store in the Port Authority’s bus depot, the shelf-stable product – just $3.99 a can – is now stored in anti-theft plastic cases.
“I’ve never seen this before!” a cashier laughed as he used a magnet to remove a box of spam from his cage.
The cashier was among stunned staff, tourists and store regulars that the iconic blue and yellow cans are now kept locked up – some even mocking the sight as “some sort of tribute to Jeff Koons”. for a viral tweet.
Jenny Kenny, 43, who was from Louisville, KY, knew about the ongoing crime waves hitting cities like New York and San Francisco, but still couldn’t believe the sight of “so much stuff in boxes “.
“Some of these things are pretty ridiculous,” she said.
As prices and crime soar, New York stores have moved to lock down staples like toothpaste and soap to prevent scammers from stealing and then selling the products on the sidewalk or in markets online like Amazon and eBay.
Still, some shoppers couldn’t understand why spam, along with $1.89 StarKist cans of tuna, were encased in plastic, while more expensive food items like Amy’s $5.49 cans of soup remained unhindered.
“Putting spam in a cage is dumb – and a little insulting to customers who would buy it,” said Dennis Snow, 46.
Snow said he didn’t believe the spam was being stolen to “sell it for crack”, but rather because the homeless in the area were looking for a quick and easy meal.
“Someone is stealing this because they need it,” admitted Delia Kemph, a 28-year-old teacher.
Store workers said thefts had increased over the past two-plus years, with one estimating a minimum of four shoplifters per evening shift.
“I don’t think they’re stopping anything,” Iggy, 21, a store clerk, said of the theft cases. “It’s security theatre. If you really needed it, you would stomp on it.
The employee’s complaints were prescient: Around 7 p.m. Thursday, a man in a black tank top and gray sweatpants asked an employee to unlock the glass case for a $38 electric razor, then locked the device in front of a security guard in a yellow shirt and outside.
With inflation out of control – the consumer price index climbed 9.1% in June from a year ago, even as President Biden this week refused to acknowledge that the country is in recession despite the economy shrinking two quarters in a row – emboldened thieves have found a ready market for discounted stolen goods among recession-weary consumers.
Small theft complaints for the NYPD Midtown South Precinct, which includes the Port Authority Bus Terminal, are up 52% – to 1,771 through July 24 – compared to the same period last year .
Hormel CEO Jim Snee told analysts last month that prices for their former product needed to rise in late July to cover rising transportation, packaging and meat costs.
A spokeswoman for Walgreens, owner Duane Reade, declined to say why the spam was locked in that particular location, and that the installation of anti-theft devices is “in response to data theft.”
Liz Tawfik, 57, a home care aide, complained that the extra security measures hamper the once-smooth shopping experience and annoy customers like her.
“If you’re going to take a train, you want to catch something quick, it’s not quick anymore,” she said. “You might as well have someone take your order at the door and get you what you want.”
Not all pharmacies have blocked spam.
Two other Duane Reades and a CVS in the Times Square area, as well as a Rite Aid and a CVS in Central Harlem, sold their boxes of spam, cageless.
Dariel Cepin, 23, an employee at a West 44th Street Duane Reade, said: “Here we lock up the ice cream.”