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A Brief History of People Shoving Other People's Meat Down Their Pants

It's probably the worst place that a person could put raw meat, but thieves around the globe routinely shoplift steaks, bacon, and sausage by hiding them in their pants. The food safety implications alone are enough to put you off grilling season.
July 8, 2014, 2:41pm
Photo via Flickr user Nick Castonguay

Last week, a man entered a Food Lion grocery store in Loudon, TN, and, according to police, stuffed over $300 worth of raw meat down his baggy pants, which he tucked into his shoe for good measure before leaving. The thief is still at large.

Of course, we're now in the thick of grilling season, which, from a food safety standpoint, is probably the worst time for someone to place pieces of dead animal next to their doubtlessly balmy genitals. The Tennessee man's objectives are unknown, but a beef thief doesn't necessarily wait for the mercury to rise before deciding to fleece some flesh. In fact, it happens all the time.

An Australian man, for example, was recently granted bail by an Australian court for his meat caper. He put chicken kebabs, filet steak, and frozen prawns down his pants and in his pockets, along with containers of pasta salad and spring onion dip. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he tested positive for marijuana only two hours after one of his court appearances.

On Prince Edward Island, a meat thief was more discreet. He put $71.32 worth of chicken breasts, bacon, and steaks into his grocery basket, which he then took to the bathroom to hide beneath his waistband. Keen on recovering its loss, the store horrifyingly opted to resell the meat. An attorney in the case told the local paper, "That sounds strange. They must have been well wrapped in plastic given that they were down his pants."

In most of these cases, store employees are the ones to notice meat theft. In 2009, however, a Massachusetts K9 unit tasked with tracking down an armed robbery suspect got distracted by the warm odor of meat emanating from a homeless man's groin. "The dog must have smelled a tasty dinner in his pants," a police spokesman said, noting that the man admitted to pinching $68 worth of meat from a nearby supermarket. The robbery suspect, however, was not found.

While he was being handcuffed, the officers found an entire mesquite-smoked, split-style brisket in his pants.

Also in 2009, a man from Bryan, TX, was arrested after a store manager noticed him and another suspect putting meat in his pants. After he was discovered, he attempted to put the meat back into the case, and explained that he was planning to resell the it to buy drugs. (This is also a common theme in meat theft—apparently there exists a healthy black market for buying raw meat from junkies.) As he was being frisked, police discovered a package of sausage in his socks.

But Bryan must be a hotbed of meat larceny. Last year, another man there was spotted stuffing four rib-eye steaks under his waistband at an HEB supermarket. While he was being handcuffed, the officers found an entire mesquite-smoked, split-style brisket in his pants, too.

And what would a meat-in-pants history be if it didn't include a bit of hide-the-sausage? It happened in Australia, and it happened in Kentucky. It happened in Florida, when a man grabbed four packages of Conecuh Sausage from a Piggly Wiggly before pulling a knife on a store employee. Elsewhere in Florida, it happened again—but that time the perp, a woman, couldn't so easily explain the "obvious bulge" protruding from her pants.

Even the rich and famous aren't immune to the lure of freshly pilfered flesh. In 1983, Frankie Yankovic—better known as "America's Polka King"—had a run-in with police at the ripe old age of 68. A pound of bacon and a six-ounce sirloin strip were discovered in his pockets after a customer alerted the authorities. He had $900 in his wallet at the time, and claimed that the whole incident was simply a misunderstanding.

Other meat thieves don't have it so easy. A man in Bridgeton, NJ, stole approximately $23.46 in packaged steaks from a C-Town supermarket. When he was arrested on the premises, he allegedly began "shouting profanities in close proximity to children," according to police. His bail was set at a staggering $54,250.

Like our man in Tennessee, not everyone is caught. In Wichita, a man got away with his alleged meat theft with the help in the form of a getaway car. A witness saw him enter the local Save-A-Lot and place two packages of unspecified meat product down his pants, which apparently affected his ability to walk as he made a dash for the car.

But pants aren't the only option. A grocery store manager in Stuart, FL, alerted police after he saw a woman "conceal deli meat up her dress," which included $10.60 worth of Boar's Head turkey breast and $11.70 in Boar's Head low-sodium ham. She was arrested shortly later.

That brings us, of course, to perhaps the most infamous meat theft of all: Divine in Pink Flamingos, shoplifting a fresh steak by tucking it between her voluptuous thighs to the doo-wop sounds of Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers.

And that, dear reader, is how you steal some meat.