photo by Roberto Machado Noa via getty images

Hawaii's most beloved processed meat is a target for thieves

Sammy Nickalls
February 07, 2018

There’s been a lot of rather creative food-related crime lately (it’s acknowledgment, not endorsement!)--deli customers assaulting a clerk with avocados, a coffee-loving grandmother leading police on a very slow car chase, a guy threatening to shoot the people who prepared his sandwich because his eggs were too runny. But the latest sly ruffians breakin’ the law get their own catchy name: Spamdits. According to The Washington Post, Hawaii's been having a considerable problem with people stealing Spam from stores--so much so that retailers have had to adopt new security measures for the famed mystery meat.

At a Safeway in Pearl City, a customer witnessed a man snatching eight cases of Spam and leaving the store. “That’s when I thought, ‘Okay, this isn’t real. No, he’s not going to take it, no, no,’” the customer told KHON TV. “Next thing I knew once he passed the register, that’s when I heard the intercom management to the front and it was really fast.”

At approximately the same time, three women attempted (and failed) to steal 18 cases of Spam from a Long's drugstore on the island; there’s also a $1,000 reward issued by the Honolulu Police department for a man who stole Spam and pushed a security guard, according to the Post

So are these people just...really craving Spam? According to Tina Yamaki, president of the Retail Merchants of Hawaii, the thievery is out of love, but not for the meat—for cash. Yamaki told the Post that the robbers are likely a part of a Spam black market in a state where there's high demand for it. In fact, Yamaki believes Spam has become its own form of currency in these circles; with each 12-ounce can selling for approximately $2.50, hopping into a grocery store and snagging an armful can get some quick cash. "It's organized retail crime," Yamaki told the Post. "It's not like ‘I'm going in to steal Spam to feed my family. I'm going in with a list of things I want to steal.’"

In fact, the thieves reportedly work in teams, with one person distracting potential witnesses. As a result, stores have taken to locking up the Spam so that it's only accessible by asking a salesperson to get it for you, akin to that of some razors and electronics. “We hear a lot of rumors where it’s going,” Yamaki said. “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. Whether they’re true or not, I’m not sure.”

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