The person in charge of a large super market in the center of Athens, talked to the Greek newspaper Kathimerini about the increase in the number of petty thefts that take place in super markets due to the financial crisis.
He said that in the past, expensive items, chiefly cosmetics, alcohol drinks and personal hygiene items were the things that people could not afford. On the contrary now, food such as yoghurt, milk and biscuits are the items that are targeted.
For the first time, there have been recorded cases, according to which food is consumed within the store. On an almost daily basis, employees discover packages of chocolates or other items in the aisles, on corners or behind stalls.
“They open the packages and eat on the spot,” the person in charge said. “People are starving, what can they do?” he added. “This is why, in case employees see them, they turn a blind eye. If somebody is starving, what can we say? He eats and leaves,” he concluded.
The situation in many other super markets in the wider area of the center of Athens is similar. Employees have often witnessed Greeks and foreigners stealing cheese or olive oil.
In any case, the police are rarely called. “If we catch somebody stealing, we take the product from him and let him go. For what reason should we call the police?” another store’s employee mentioned.
Police sources confirm that the phenomenon is on the rise. However, it is often that incidents are solved in the store, without the authorities’ intervention. Only in the case that the object is of high value the police are called. “In most cases, incidents relate to the need of survival. They take a croissant, something that can be quickly consumed,” as reported.
According to the Penal Code, if the theft concerns an object of low value, it is punishable by a fine or imprisonment up to six months. In the case that the act was committed out of necessity for immediate use or consumption of the object of theft, the court can deem the act unpunished.
Big stores are more vulnerable to pilfering, where, despite the advanced security systems, the control is difficult, as new methods of theft are constantly being discovered.
According to the recent research by ECR Hellas, the total percentage of losses from super market shelves has increased by 10 percent within one year, with the cost for the businesses reaching more than €95 million per year.
Losses concerning the products of wide consumption reach 2,1 percent of the sales, with an increasing trend. The products with the biggest theft percentages are olive oil, honey, coffee, alcohol drinks, mouth hygiene products, gums and chocolates, cosmetics, batteries, food, such as cheese.
Petty thefts are recorded in mini markets as well, according to the owners’ testimonies.