Middle-class shoppers who have been hit by the recession are stealing hundreds of millions of pounds of expensive food in an effort to maintain their high standard of living, according to a new survey.

Quality cuts of meat, fresh fish and high-priced cheeses are being taken by mostly middle-class women from specialty food and convenience shops, where thefts have risen sharply in the past year. Thousands of retailers have found that luxury foods are being stolen for individual use rather than to be sold on.

The information comes from more than 42,000 shops in Europe with combined sales of £262 billion, who were questioned by the Centre for Retail Research, an independent organization, for Checkpoint Systems, the retail security specialists.

Read the whole piece from the London Times. (HT to Ken Harmon of T19!)