This Is The Most Stolen Food In The World

When you think about shoplifting, you probably imagine people attempting to pocket small electronics or a purse full of cosmetics. And you wouldn't be wrong. According to data from the UK's Centre for Retail Research (CRR), people often take makeup, smart speakers, headphones, and clothing accessories without paying for them first at the register.

You probably, though, don't think much about shoplifting food, and if you do, you probably sooner envision a teenager stuffing their pockets with candy or college students trying to slip a bottle of booze into a coat. Per CRR, there are, in fact, a few food items that make the list of most-stolen, including packaged meat and coffee. Alcohol also unsurprisingly makes the shoplifting list, with the spirits most often pilfered being whiskey, champagne, and gin.

But there's one other food item that's among the most stolen; it's another you likely would not have guessed, but that when you consider its size and how it's displayed in stores — not to mention its popularity — starts to make sense.

It's cheese, but why?

It would probably surprise you to learn that the No. 1 shoplifted food item in the world is not a pocket-sized sweet or high-end liquor but rather everyone's favorite burger topping: cheese. TIME first reported in 2011 that cheese is the world's most shoplifted food product, with a whopping 4% of the world's cheese ending up stolen! The outlet, at the time, also used data from the Centre for Retail Research, and years later, cheese remains on the list.

Of course, the obvious follow-up question to this high level of lactose-based larceny, though, is "why cheese?" Well, according to Esquire, cheese falls into a category of "CRAVED" items, meaning it is Concealable, Removable, Available, Valuable, Enjoyable, and Disposable, and comes with the bonus of not being tagged with security devices like electronics or cosmetic items like razor blades.

Also as HuffPost noted back in 2011, these cheese thieves are not doing it for the love of cheddar. Although it is possible they skim some off the top for themselves, it is reported that cheese stolen in large heists is often resold on the black market or to restaurants looking to avoid high retail prices.