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Spam thefts on the rise in Hawaii ... which freaking loves Spam

Stores on Oahu are taking unusual prevention measures.

Hawaii is basically an alternate version of our own reality: it's always summer there, it looks like paradise, and now, their grocery stores keep Spam in the same glass security cases as high-end booze and electronics.

It's because Minnesota's favorite export – a longtime cultural phenomenon in Hawaii – is apparently becoming the preferred currency of local criminals. 

As Honolulu Civil Beat reports, a number of stores on Oahu are now keeping Spam under lock and key – or behind counters – to prevent theft, with a number of brazen Spam thefts having made the news. 

It seems thieves are selling the canned meat to middlemen in exchange for drug money, or selling them on their own "for bargain prices," the website says.

In one case last month, three women tried stealing an entire shopping cart full of Spam from a Longs Drugs in Ewa Beach, according to a report by KITV

Also last month, witnesses at a Safeway in Pearl City saw a shoplifter walk right out the door with eight cases of Spam in his arms, KHON reported

So what's the reason for all this madness?

A lot of people are blaming a new state law. Passed last year, it raised the threshold for felony theft from $300 to $750.

One retail expert told KHON this is a major cause of the crimewave, as the legislation allows thieves to steal a lot more – without having to worry about serious penalties. 

Hawaii is Spam country

On top of all this, Hawaiians just really, really love Spam.

Hawaii consumes more of the stuff per capita than any other U.S. state, according to a Slate.com piece on the product's popularity on the islands.

In fact, the website says, you're weird in Hawaii if youdon't eat Spam, which is so ubiquitous you can find it at fast food joints, and even an annual festival called "Spam Jam."

So ... why?

The phenomenon has its roots in World War II, when food shortages forced Hawaiians to turn to Spam – which had been imported by the American war effort to feed locally stationed servicemen, Eater said. It turned out to be a cheap, tasty, and protein-packed alternative to their usual meats.

Ever since then, it's been a main ingredient in Hawaii's food culture.

Spam was born – and continues to be manufactured – in Austin, Minnesota. 

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