Stores across U.S. see rise baby formula thefts

Posted at 6:23 PM, Jan 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-07 19:30:26-05

The Associated Press published a story about the recent arrests of three people accused of stealing thousands of dollars in baby formula in Utah.

The story was just the latest example of a problem that's dogged U.S. stores and law enforcement for years.

AP reports Logan police say last month they confiscated 422 cans of formula that was stolen from stores in that city and three others in northern Utah.

The high price and broad demand of baby formula make it attractive for thieves, who sell it at flea markets and online. A basic can of the powder starts at about $20 for roughly 20 ounces, and special or prescription blends can cost three times that, according to the Associated Press.

41 Action News wanted to know if local merchants had also seen recent thefts of baby formula in the KC metro.

Janice Witt runs the Reola Grant Center in Kansas City, Kansas. She helps mothers who may not be able to afford the expensive but necessary formula.

“It's how their brain is nurtured. It's how they grow. It's what gives them good cognitive skills later in life,” Witt explained.

It didn’t surprise Witt that thieves would target the cans of formula.

“Supply and demand. It's economy. It's no different than drugs; it's no difference than sofas and TVs. It's the same thing. There's a want, there's a need and someone will always try to supply that.”

Several metro Kansas City police departments say they haven’t seen any large theft rings recently but agencies across the country have seen heists ranging from thousands to several million dollars of baby formula.

Grocers, retailers and police have been working to combat the issue for about 15 years. They say millions of dollars' worth of formula has been stolen over that time.


Shannon Halligan can be reached at

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