The grocery store that I work in has had four robberies in as many months; and all of them have been related to baby formula in one way or another. One girl grabbed all the formula cans that she could hold and just ran out of the store. Another man did the same stunt -- when security tried to stop them, he jammed a hypodermic needle into one of the managers' legs.

Needless to say, that was the day that he quit. Why would selling such a simple product be so dangerous?

A few different reasons. Baby formula is expensive; sometimes, a single small container can run $15 or more. That's nearly its weight in gold! (Okay, okay, it's more like 1/200 of its weight in gold. But you understand.)

So why do stores bother to sell formula at all, if it's so dangerous? Many keep it behind the courtesy desks for increased security; for whatever reasons, we don't.

However, there's a program known as "WIC", administered by the US federal government. WIC is designed to feed (as its name abbreviates) Women, Infants, and Children. To ensure compliance, grocery stores are required to keep certain amounts of healthy food available at all times, lest they be subject to huge cash penalties. We're talking thousands of dollars. One of these requirements?

Several cases of Enfamil and Isomil, some of the most expensive formulae available.

This means that there's always something to steal, under federal law. I don't oppose this policy or anything (on the contrary, it's extremely important), but it's remarkably dangerous.

Of course, it's not all violence. Every month or so, there are coupons circulating reading "Three Free Enfamil Containers" or "One Enfamil, 18 oz. or Less" and others. Although they're pretty obvious counterfeits, a lot of cashiers will blindly put them through anyway. Usually there's two or three such coupons taped to each register to demonstrate.

Just a glimpse into the world of crime that is wholesale business.

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