The cost of living crisis

Dear Editor,

I got one of the most significant shocks of my life when I saw a young lady holding a baby standing next to me in a food store aisle unzip her bag and politely drop two jars of baby food in it, and calmly zip it back up. Then, she moved farther down the aisle and repeated the same thing with other items.

This was the first time I had witnessed such a scenario, so I was too shocked to say anything.

Eventually, I got a hold of myself and asked her if she realized she was not only committing a crime but was the cause of high store prices.

She looked at me and said the shop could afford it, and I’m probably some wealthy person who doesn’t know how tough things are for the poor — especially girls with babies and no one to help them.

I could not let her get away with such an assumption.

So, I started asking questions like how she got into such a predicament.

Where is her baby’s daddy and who is she living with?

Her baby’s daddy is in prison for armed robbery, and she is living with friends because her parents put her out when she got pregnant.

For the last few months, shoplifting has been her only means of survival.

My grandson, who was with me, insisted that I give her some money to pay for the goods she had in her bag. I gave her a $20 bill, for which she thanked me profusely.

I watched her walk toward the cashier, thinking she would pay for the stashed items. But to my surprise, the young lady walked right out of the store.

With the soaring increase in inflation, we must now prepare ourselves to deal with an even higher crime rate.

Already, murder is at an alarming rate. Statistics prove that, for the most part, the majority appears to be gang-related. Recently, there has been an increase in armed robberies.

Petty theft, such as housebreaking and the theft of car parts, is also out of control. I can’t understand why the latter is still relevant. Maybe it’s because the police are waiting to charge some car owner with murder.

Shoplifting is set to go mass market. People who never thought they would be walking out of the store with items they did not pay for are doing it without giving it a second thought. This is especially so but not limited to single mothers.

Shoplifting is rising, and there is a clear indication of the relationship between the high rise in stealing and the soaring cost of living crisis.

The saddest part of it all — like the young lady who takes her baby with her when shoplifting — is that children are being taught the craft and, in later years, will become professional thieves.

The seriousness of it is the majority of crimes are committed by kids from single parents. But that is a story for another time.

Soup kitchens offer a last resort for challenged individuals, but the recent high rise in prices and decline in donors have seen many of them closed, with the ones operating overwhelmed with new faces daily.

The soup kitchens play an essential role in the lives of many. Without soup kitchens, many people would go hungry all day long. People you never thought you would see in soup lines are taking lunch breaks to get something to eat.

There is mention of social service distributing discount grocery vouchers to those most in need. But who is to determine who is most in need?

Unfortunately, like all profit-yielding crime, shoplifting will intensify as the cost of living worsens. Stealing to eat has become a way of life for many people; most of the things that they steal are just food and basic things they need to get by.

Not too long ago, there was a video on social media with two young ladies caught shoplifting. They were made to empty their bags and pockets, handcuffed, and taken away by the police.

While we do not advocate crime of any kind, we must call a spade a spade. Those two young ladies were probably first-time offenders. Amateurs. With prices as high as they are, there will be many more first-timers who will learn how to steal from shops.

We can hear the noise from the privileged ones who don’t understand the situation: “Good for them. They need to go work, should know better,” and so on.

But it is what it is, and until we are faced with a hungry baby and nothing for them to eat, we can say anything.

Recently, there was a big commotion over some proposals put forward by the government that would help ease the burden of the people.

But this does not in any way absolve them from the furor because many say they should not have put value-added tax back on breadbasket items.

While we are trying to understand the merchant’s position, what we do not understand is why two tomatoes are sold for $5 and why the prices on old items that have been on the shelf for God knows how long have been changed to a higher price.

Now, there is shrinkflation.

I’m sure we are not the only ones who have noticed that while groceries are going up in price, their sizes are decreasing.

Shrinkflation is a word I ran across while trying to understand the decrease in sizes but an increase in prices on many items.

This is madness. They decrease the size of bread, juice, and snacks, the daily needs, then go up in price.

I read somewhere that while supermarkets may be trying to get a hold of shoplifting, some people see it as a form of fighting against greedy merchants.

We are not trying to tell the merchants how to run their businesses because they are the smart ones. If they weren’t brilliant, they would not have been able to amass such great wealth.

What we are asking is not begging; that you show a little mercy.

For God’s sake, man, a head of lettuce for $5, a loaf of bread for $5, and two tomatoes for $5. Those essentials for a healthy living costs $15. I believe even rich folks are having a problem with these prices.

Can’t you have a little mercy and let us slide with them?

They can’t cut too much in your already exorbitant profits.

As a matter of fact, the price of almost every single item in your store has gone up, with many of them being downsized.

And now, you tell us everything is being done in our best interest.

With things worsening this winter, we urge that we all do our best to be our brother’s keepers. We all know each other and what most of us are going through. Let us not turn a blind eye to each other’s condition.

Where possible, lend a hand and, when necessary, ask for help.

God bless The Bahamas!

— Anthony Pratt

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