Sweden has been set on a path towards increased lawlessness for years on end, and combined with higher inflation this past year, the number of thefts in Swedish grocery stores have risen sharply. In a debate article in Aftonbladet, a number of Swedish store owners write that the situation for Swedish grocery stores is dire. Theft of meat products in particular has developed into a serious problem.
A retailer in Bromma comments that people have gone beyond stealing goods such as razors and razor blades, they are now also stealing meat products. The culprits are sometimes ordinary families, but may also involve “more organized crime”. The latter is especially true for expensive meat products such as fillets of beef, entrecôte and sirloin which are attractive to thieves. In a single store, Ica Maxi in Linköping, 70 kilos of beef fillets were stolen in the days before New Year’s Eve.
The meat thefts have forced grocers to adopt costly and labor-intensive countermeasures, such as anti theft labels and tags, an increased presence of inspectors, as well as locking up the meat products and only keeping it behind the counter. A grocer in Uppsala says that they are forced to – after 6pm, when most thefts take place – remove the meat that is most likely to be stolen. Unfortunately, such measures contribute towards lowered sales of Swedish meat products, which in turn also affects Swedish farmers.
Surveys unfortunately show that the grocery trade in Sweden is highly exposed to crime. In 2021, around 43,000 shop thefts involving values of several billion SEK were reported. Many people use the shops as their local pantry. In addition to theft, threats and harassment of staff is also not uncommon. Since 2010, the number of registered shoplifting incidents in Sweden has doubled.
Unfortunately, the risk involved seems to be low for the criminals themselves. Swedish police have enough problems as it is dealing with more serious crime such as gang-related shootings, murders and bomb attacks. To make matters worse, many of these more serious types of crimes are never solved.
The shop owners write that they fully understand that more serious crime is tying down a lot of the resources and the focus of the police forces, as well as that of the other parts of the legal system, however, they insist that the seriousness of the situation requires the attention of the authorities, and that they must be able to deal with both. It is an extensive problem that shoplifting is not given a higher priority by the legal system, and that so few people are successfully prosecuted for theft. The grocers are therefore asking politicians and the police to allocate more resources to stopping everyday crimes, which have wide-ranging consequences for ordinary citizens. Upholding law and order is absolutely necessary for maintaining the social contract and the willingness of the citizens to pay their taxes.