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All those candy canes seem to be leaving some people with sticky fingers.

Meat and cheese theft is on the rise across Edmonton, and it’s a problem police aren’t expecting to go away anytime soon. Because the products are small, easy to conceal and carry a high resell value, they’re a hot item for crooks. But we aren’t just talking about a couple of stolen steaks and cheddar bricks – we’re talking about thieves who clear off entire shelves.

“They don’t just steal a piece of cheese, they steal the whole cooler,” Italian Centre Shop owner Teresa Spinelli said.

Spinelli says a recent string of thefts have cost her business thousands this holiday season, and she isn’t the only one complaining. The Edmonton Police Service reports that it’s been receiving calls almost weekly about meats and cheeses being looted from stores.

Officers won’t confirm whether or not the rise in thefts is connected to Alberta’s economic woes or the rising cost of foods in general, but they’re asking store owners to beef up their surveillance, just in case they become a target.

“I think desperate times call for desperate measures,” Sgt. Steve Sharpe said. “Certainly it’s something we’ll have to keep an eye on.”

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