Formula isn’t just for babies anymore. Infant formula is a much-coveted item in illicit drug rings. According to USA Today, shoplifting baby formula is part of a growing problem with organized retail crime. Stealing baby formula is such a widespread problem that some lawmakers are actually working on bills to increase penalties for stealing formula.
Senators from Minnesota, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Florida announced legislation March 8, 2011 that is aimed at stopping organized theft of medical items, such as baby formula and prescription drugs.
Baby formula is a staple for shoplifting rings because it is always in demand, and it’s expensive. Some retailers sell a 6-pack of 24-oz powder formula for $128 to $180, depending on the brand. A single can of baby formula can cost more than $20, and one can doesn’t last that long.
Historically, alcohol and tobacco products are the hot items for theft. The rise in baby formula theft has prompted some stores to install security cameras. WSAW-TV in Wausau, Wisconsin reports that all the Quality Foods IGA stores in the city have moved all the powder formula behind the counter. This is the same security measure offered for cigarettes and alcohol.
Criminals are shoplifting baby formula to cut cocaine and heroin. “Cutting” refers to the process of taking a pure form of an illegal drug, adding a “cutting agent” (in this case, formula) in order to decrease the ratio of the drug. The potency is reduced. The drug buyer doesn’t realize the drug has been cut. The drug seller has a higher profit margin, as a result.
Cutting illegal drugs isn’t the only reason that criminals are shoplifting baby formula. Because the price of formula is so high, some criminals are stealing it, changing the expiration date of the product, and reselling the baby formula on the black market.
Baby Formula Theft in 2011 and 2010
According to the USA Today, a multistate formula-stealing ring was broken up in January. The crooks had allegedly stolen $135,000 worth of formula.
In February, a couple from Kentucky was arrested after police found they had $4,000 worth of stolen baby formula.
Last year in March 2010, a group in Colorado pleaded guilty to shoplifting over $20,000 of baby formula from the Colorado Springs and Denver areas.
In August 2010, two men in Los Angeles were arrested for their connection with a theft ring that allegedly stole over $6 million in baby formula and other items.
A month later, in September, seven members of a crime ring in Texas pleaded guilty for theft of $18,000 worth of baby formula.
Can You Believe This Trend?
What do you think of this crime trend? Do you find it hilarious – like I do? Or is it just sad?