Portugal: Due to rising food prices, thefts are on the rise

Portugal: Due to rising food prices, thefts are on the rise

In Portugal, shoplifting may increase by 40 percent compared to last year as residents steal canned fish, oil, bread, coffee and other staples due to rising food prices, Portuguese weekly Expresso reported, citing official data.

“This phenomenon is particularly pronounced in big cities like Lisbon and Porto,” said Goncalo Lobo Xavier, president of the Portuguese Association of Distribution Companies (APED). “There is no doubt that people steal these things to eat. This is the first sign of a serious social crisis,” he added.

Portuguese police say that from January to June, 452 thefts were reported in supermarkets.

If this trend continues, it will be a 40 percent increase compared to last year. People affected by the price hike are also stealing frozen fish, especially cod, which is traditionally eaten in Portugal, a country of 10.3 million people on the Atlantic coast.

Police say many stores don’t even report thefts of food items like potatoes, but more and more stores have built-in alarm systems.

“In the last two or three months, we have witnessed a significant increase in thefts. People who can no longer survive on their salaries decide to commit them,” says Claudio Ferreira, president of the association of private security companies.

“People are desperate. They hide cartons of canned milk and fish in their bags or jackets to eat or give this food to their children,” he adds.

The price of an average grocery basket, which consists of 63 basic products, reached its highest price this year last week. It now costs 214 euros, which is 30.67 euros more than in February before the war in Ukraine, reported the consumer protection association Deco Proteste.

Food prices have risen by an average of 17 percent and rampant inflation is increasingly affecting the middle class, which is also facing higher electricity and gas prices. 1.9 million inhabitants are on the verge of poverty with an income of less than 554 euros per month.