Thursday, November 16, 2006

Most Stolen Grocery Item in Italy!*

*Among Dairy and Produce products in grocery stores

On Live 105.3 they had their usual morning "dumbass contest". This morning they were asking listeners to call in and answer, "What is the most stolen retail item in Italy?". With a number of people calling in trying to guess, I thought I'd be clever and look it up as quick as I could. I quickly found crime statistics on retail items, statistics recorded by the FBI that listed items by units stolen in petty theft crimes (discluding crime organizations / "rings", or items by total value stolen). I laughed looking at the list thinking about reasons why headache medications was at the top of the list. But this was for the United States, so I figured while there is most likely a strong correlation between the United States and Italy, there had to be a reason for the contest; there must have been something special.

I did not find the answer until somebody managed to guess the "correct answer" on the radio. Parmesan Cheese. I found this interesting... but peculiar. Italy is famous for cheese, but considering that on the FBI list for the United States, in the top 50 items there wasn't any food, I became skeptical and started looking for the data source for the radio / news. I found two reports, the better of which is the link above. In skimming through the report, I couldn't help notice where the report came from:

"Lumps of the hard, granular cheese, which Italians love to sprinkle on their pasta, are stolen from the shelves of Italy's stores more often than any other item, according to a survey by the Italian Farmers' Union, Coldiretti."

Umm... Farmers Union? This seems similar to the Nutrition chart published in schools around the country by the American Dairy Council telling everybody they weren't drinking enough milk. Heaven forbid such a report be, or at least nutrition recommendations be made for something other than milk, or by a group such as, maybe, the American Medical Association?

So like the FBI notes in their statistics, unorganized retail petty theft for specific years, I noted at the top what I think the domain of their survey was: #1 stolen produce or dairy product in grocery stores, which of course would have to be the most coveted and expensive of those items, the Parmesan Cheese.

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