By Cindy Perman, CNBC.com
Want to know how the economy's doing? Check the meat aisle.
.In the middle of the recession, grocery stores were slashing prices on everything, including high-end food items - some offered lobster at lunchmeat prices and others offered steak for $5.
That all seemed pretty shocking, but the situation seems to have gotten even worse. Now, filet mignon has made the top 10 list of things people shoplift, according to a list compiled by Adweek.
There are some predictable items on the list - like booze, razor blades and Elmo dolls.
But filet mignon?
Yep. Police say that choice cuts of meat are the most common thing people steal at grocery stores. And, for that matter, grocery stores are the No. 1 place thieves go to steal. The loss rate for "luxury meat," as it's called, jumped 21 percent between 2009 and 2011, according to Justice Department statistics.
A pack of gum or razor blades? Easy to toss into your pocket. But how do you just casually slip a drippy packet of meat into your jacket or purse? Doesn't anyone see the trail of blood?
Well, thank your lucky series of tubes, the Internet has the answer. Search "how to steal meat" and it turns up 23 MILLION results.
One former meat counter worker offered this advice: First, the magnetic strip on pre-packaged meats is very easy to peel off, unlike those ink-filled sensors on clothing items. However, the smartest thieves will just walk straight up to the butcher counter and have them giftwrap the meat you're planning to steal - without a bar code. Those are also easier to put in your pocket because they don't have Styrofoam, which, let's face it, can be awkward.
Of course, most retail crime is committeed by employees themselves, so it's possible guys like that from the butcher shop are just walking out the back door, pockets stuffed with meat. But still, it was nice of that guy to share his tips with the rest of us, don't you think?!
OK, before you die of anticipation - or iron deficiency - here's the full top 10 list of items shoplifters steal the most:
1. Filet mignon
2. Jameson whiskey
3. Electric tools (this not only includes power tools but also electric toothbrushes - because apparently, hygiene is very important for burglars.)
4. iPhone 4 (duh)
5. Gillette Mach 4 razor blades (again with the hygiene)
6. Axe deodorant and body wash (seriously with the hygiene?)
7. Polo Ralph Lauren and other designer apparel like Tommy Hilfiger (hey, just because you're a burglar doesn't mean you have to look like a hobo!)
8. Let's Rock Elmo (because really, what better example to set for your kids than to steal if you can't afford what you want?)
9. Chanel No. 5 (because honestly, no one likes a stinky burglar.)
10. Nike and other big brand-name athletic shoes. (Because none of that other stuff matters if a lady looks down while eating that medium rare steak you stole for her and sees the hole-riddled, dirty shoes of your run-of-the-mill burglar. You want to close this deal, you've got to seal that stuff up - top to bottom. Plus, it helps you run out the store quickly without getting caught.)
It's like Billy Crystal said: It's not how you feel - it's how you look. It's better to look good than to feel good.
Stealing meat? Well, that's just crazy-go-nuts!
More from CNBC:
Banned Luxury Goods
5 Undefeated Food Challenges
Successes That Almost Weren't
By Cindy Perman, CNBC.com