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“Extreme impoverishment”: record inflation led Polish pensioners to shameful acts

Due to the high cost, pensioners have lost the opportunity to purchase many products that they could afford before.

Due to the high cost, pensioners have lost the opportunity to purchase many products that they could afford before.

A photo: EAST NEWS

Polish retailers clutching their heads – the number of thefts in grocery stores has increased dramatically in the country. The vast majority of lawbreakers are elderly people who steal or eat right in stores not some delicacies, but the most common products – sausage, sweets, bread.

Sociologist Marek Orlovsky has been specializing in security issues for many years. He took part in the investigation of high-profile and daring thefts, but never, by his own admission, did he remember such strange and unusual thieves.

Orlovsky says that elderly Poles began to shoplift, for example, fresh meat, trying to carry it out in their pockets and bags. “There was even a case when one old man put a block of frozen beef under his hat, but was caught on the fact that it began to melt, trickles of a reddish liquid treacherously flowed down the face of an elderly man. Poland has been hit by a plague of grocery store theft, old people are acting like bad guys,” he laments.

The epidemic of food theft began in Poland a few months ago, after last October the cost of a monthly consumer basket of the cheapest products for the first time exceeded the bar of 200 Polish zlotys (about 3,200 rubles).

Due to the high cost, pensioners have lost the opportunity to purchase many products that they could previously afford. “They don’t just steal. – continues Orlovsky. – All they take is single items, small in size: most often it is butter, cheese, sausage, sweets, coffee. People are used to drinking coffee in the morning, eating a slice or two of chocolate. And now they can’t buy all this, and they can afford it only if they steal it.”

The guards of Polish grocery supermarkets confirm that if earlier they had to call the police, into whose hands they were obliged to hand over the thieves, they had to extremely rarely, but now they have to call several times per shift. One of them told reporters: “Recently, an old man was caught stealing a bag of halva, and yesterday an elderly woman was caught trying to take out a jar of jam.”

The growth of food theft in Poland shows extremely high dynamics. For comparison: in 2013, such thefts accounted for 6.2% of all crimes, in 2021 – already 26.4%. While over the same period the number of pickpockets, for example, fell from 3.4 to 1%.

“The reason for this was the impoverishment of society,” explains Renata Yushkevich, president of the Polish Trade and Distribution Organization. – If ordinary people start stealing bread or sweets, the cost of which does not exceed a few zlotys, this means that they are really in a difficult situation. When they are caught, they apologize and say that they simply have nothing to buy food, because medicines are expensive, electricity and heating bills have increased, public transport fares have risen … Another reason is the high inflation of the zloty. In December last year, it amounted to a record 16.6% year on year, i.е. each Pole paid 20% more for food than a year earlier. Over the past year, sugar in Poland has risen in price by 50%, poultry meat – by 49%, ground coffee – by 33%.

Authors of an article published on a Polish website tokFM.pl, clearly pity the old people. Journalists not only spoke in vivid colors about the hardships of today’s life of many of their elderly compatriots, but also described in detail the reasons that led to the sharp impoverishment of pensioners. At the same time, either forgetting, or deliberately keeping silent about another important factor that led the Polish economy to a disaster, they did not begin to calculate the expenses of the Polish budget, which instead of social and pension programs are redirected with a broad gesture to completely other, non-peaceful needs – to the treasury NATO and military assistance to Ukraine.

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