With baby milk in one Kent Sainsbury's now tagged to put off thieves and the price of butter exceeding £9 new figures show the cost of living crisis is fuelling a surge in shoplifting.
One in three respondents to a recent survey admitted stealing items this year, with 69% claiming it was due to the current squeeze on finances.
Over the six months, more than £500 million worth of toiletries, food and baby formula have been swiped from shops and supermarkets.
Prior to 2022, only 22% of adults admitted to stealing goods through self-scan checkouts - but that figure has now more than trebled.
The average price of items stolen by those in the south east this year stands at £21.
The survey of almost 3,000 adults, carried out by myfavouritevouchercodes.co.uk, shows that toiletries and hygiene products are the most common items to be shoplifted.
They are followed by fresh produce, baby formula and sweets.
In March, Aptamil's Organic 1 First Infant Milk from Birth 800g rose from £12 to £13.50 while its advanced formula of the same weight cost £16 when KentOnline visited Maidstone's Sainsbury's store this week.
Suppliers have blamed the rising costs of production, transportation and storage for price increases.
Lurpak prices are now as high as £9.35 in some supermarkets, and cheese is also being put on shelves with security tags.
Julian House, managing director at the voucher code firm, said: “Theft, in any measure, is not something that can be condoned. But the findings do highlight the drastic situation many have found themselves in during this cost-of-living crisis.
"Such a high proportion are suggesting they are stealing necessary items that they simply cannot afford; this speaks to a societal and economic issue that simply must be addressed in greater measures than it currently is.
"With the value of stolen items almost breaching the half-a-billion mark, we are entering a phase where this simply must be addressed on a larger scale."