Addicts using Spam to score quick cash for drugs
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Located next to a bus stop on Hotel Street in Chinatown, business at Fred's Sundries often comes in waves.
Owner Ra Long says those busy times are what shoplifters prey on.
"They go in crowds. They sneak whatever they can," said Long.
He says thieves typically target the alcohol. But lately he's noticed more shoplifters snatching cans of Spam.
"I mean you try to keep an eye on it but if they run you just can't leave the counter and chase them. So you just got to take the hit," said Long.
It's a trend happening at stores across the island. Earlier this month, HPD says a man stole a case of Spam from a store at Fort Street Mall. When a security officer confronted him the alleged crook started throwing punches.
A spokesman for the state's largest homeless service provider says most times the people stealing aren't doing it because they're hungry. He says they do it because Spam is easy to sell.
"It's quick cash for quick drug money," said Kimo Carvalho, Institute for Human Services.
Carvalho says canned meat isn't the only thing being sold. He says many homeless people also peddle other items like clothing and toiletries. It's become such an issue the agency now limits what clients are allowed to take.
Ashley Castro lives in the shelter. She says she's she sees cans of food being sold on the street almost every day.
"A lot in Aala Park. They're always hanging out over there by the bathrooms," said Castro.
Meantime Carvalho says he doesn't want to discourage the community from giving but adds people should think about donating more responsibly.
"For the community to continue to enable them by giving them free things on the street only reinforces the problem," said Carvalho.
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