HomeFoodAstonishing rise in meat theft, and older Australians may be partly to...

Astonishing rise in meat theft, and older Australians may be partly to blame

Call me a softy, but I do hold some sympathy for people who shoplift because many are struggling to eat. But that’s not the whole picture behind an astonishing rise in meat theft.

And pensioners looking to stretch their dollar further may be partly responsible. 

According to the latest research, meat theft increased by 85 per cent between 2022 and 2023 and it appears part of that rise is due to people making a living out of stealing meat.

Retail security business Auror told The Sydney Morning Herald that more than 60 per cent of meat thefts were conducted by professional thieves. 

Auror chief customer officer Rhod Thomas said the criminals were “organised”.

“These people are stealing for a day job – literally putting the uniform on to go steal every day, hitting multiple retailers,” he said.

They also target high-quality items for resale such as liquor, baby formula and manuka honey. 

Targeting those on fixed incomes

Retail Crime Prevention Australia director Sebastian Brown told the SMH that pensioners struggling with the cost of living also played a part in the increase in grocery theft as inflation hit those on fixed incomes hard.

He said some turned to shoplifting, hiding stolen goods in their bags or clothes, or under blankets on mobility scooters. Others were buying stolen goods from professional shoplifters, who steal specified items.

“[Shoplifters] target the older generations and say, ‘I can get this for you for this price,’” he said.

Auror recorded more than 67,000 incidents of meat theft last year, with pork the most popular item stolen, followed by lamb and beef. 

The company worked with police last year, which led to the arrest of a man with $2000 worth of lamb, salmon and prawns stolen from a supermarket in Melbourne.   

Australian Retail Association director Paul Zahra told the SMH nearly half of retailers reported a rise in organised crime in the association’s latest membership survey.

“We hear of plenty of anecdotes from our members of criminals who swarm shops and take what they want to onsell in various marketplaces,” he said.

“Unfortunately, violence is often associated with these crimes and can add to the cost by way of staff injuries and wellbeing issues as well as damage to stores and other property.”

So why do they think they can get away with it? Because they can. Police rarely come to investigate shoplifting and staff are told not to intervene due to safety reasons. All they can do is ‘bar’ the person from entering in the future, but there is no way to enforce that.

If you are randomly offered ‘cheap’ meat, it’s probably been stolen. It can be tempting to accept, but in the event of a police investigation, you may also be charged for accepting stolen goods.

If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. 

This week’s best deals


Sensible: Moccona Classic Coffee varieties, $11.39. If you have to buy instant, it might as well be Moccona. Handy little jar after it’s all empty too. 

Indulgence: Jindurra Station Beef Porterhouse, $21.99/kg. Aldi was disappointingly normal this week, so this barbecue favourite is the best I can do. Actually my favourite cut of steak. Eye fillet is soft but boring. Porterhouse is where it’s at for flavour. 

See the catalogue here.


Sensible: Sunrise Microwave Rice Pouch, $3.85. This has to be one of the most expensive ways to eat rice, but it’s also one of the most convenient. Perfect for households with one or two people.

Indulgence: Coles Arnott’s Iced Vovo Inspired Hot Cross Buns, four-pack, $4.50. Let the parade of bonkers hot cross bun flavours begin. Others in this range, Pizza Shapes and Vegemite. I predict they will be on the discount shelf every week.

See the catalogue here.


Sensible: Lipton Ice Tea, half price $2.50. I’ve tried to make my own iced tea but it ends up a flavour flop. At $2.50 for 1.5L, I don’t feel bad about buying something I should be able to make myself. 

Indulgence: Cooked Australian Tiger Prawns, $28/kg. The supermarkets are starting to gear up for their Easter seafood specials. Is this how we honour Jesus these days? Expect more markdowns in the coming weeks.

See the catalogue here.


Sensible: Earth Choice Dishwashing Tablets, $14.85. I buy this brand a lot. So much cheaper than the big-name brands – I am absolutely not paying $50 for dishwashing tablets – does the job well and kind to the planet. Win-win.

Indulgence: Jansz sparkling wine, $27. Good domestic champagne, or harumph, I mean sparkling wine. Great for an occasion that needs some bubbles, but without the French price tag.

See the catalogue here.

Have you cut back on buying meat? Would you considering buying meat you thought might be stolen? Why not share your opinion in the comments section below?

Also read: Coles asks suppliers to cut prices to pay for discounts

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisherhttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/JanFisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.


  1. So what these retailers are saying that it’s easy to simply load up your shopping cart and walk out of the store because nobody will stop you. And you can do that as much as you like because police are not interested.

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