Only in Hawaii: Stores Forced to Increase Spam Security

Thieves are making off with cases of the canned meat
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 19, 2017 3:37 PM CDT
The New Hot Target for Hawaii Thieves: Spam
Stores in Hawaii are being forced to step up their Spam security after a rash of thefts.   (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

It's no secret that Hawaii can't get enough Spam—the Washington Post reports Hawaii residents eat five million tons of the canned meat every year—but this is ridiculous. After a series of brazen Spam heists, the Honolulu Civil Beat found Spam at a Walmart in Kalihi under lock and key. Meanwhile, signs at Tamura's Markets on Oahu read: "All the corned beefs are relocated at the front. Please ask Tamura’s staff for assistance. Sorry for the inconvenience.” The extra security follows a theft last month in which a man absconded from a Safeway in Waimalu with eight cases of Spam, KHON reports. That same month, three women were foiled while trying to steal 18 cases of Spam from a Longs Drugs in Ewa Beach, according to KITV. And earlier this month a man punched a security guard at a Honolulu mall and escaped with a single case of the canned meat.

While Spam is a "staple" in Hawaii, Tina Yamaki says thieves aren't stealing it to eat. The president of the Retail Merchants of Hawaii says she thinks cans of Spam are being used as currency by desperate drug addicts. “It’s organized retail crime,” Yamaki tells the Post. “It’s not like, ‘I’m going in to steal Spam to feed my family.'" She adds: “We’ve heard they work through middlemen. We’ve heard that they’re selling it from the back of their cars. We’ve heard all kinds of rumors." Yamaki says the increase in Spam thefts is at least partly due to a change in theft laws passed last year that increased the felony theft threshold from $300 to $750. Thieves can now steal approximately 300 cans of Spam before facing harsher felony penalties. (More Spam stories.)

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