14 Most Popular Items People Steal From Walgreens

Are your favorite products under lock and key?
Updated April 24, 2024
Fact checked
Walgreens Store Exterior and Sign

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Walgreens stores are popular stomping grounds for everyday Americans. From picking up prescription drugs to printing pictures and grabbing groceries, the drugstore has you covered. 

The chain has morphed from a pharmacy into a doctor’s office-supermarket-grocery store, and the coupons and loyalty program make it easy for shoppers to save money on everyday essentials. But thieves have taken note of the wide variety of items available — Walgreens stores are ripe real estate for shoplifting.

Store CFO, James Kehoe, has told shareholders that Walgreens and its retail peers are experiencing more organized theft. “It's not somebody who can't afford to eat tomorrow,” explained Kehoe. “These are gangs that actually go in and empty our stores of beauty products.”

These are the 14 most commonly stolen goods you’re likely to see under lock and key on your next run to Walgreens — if they are there at all.

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Multi-packs of single-serve wine

Alvaro/Adobe red wine glass on airplane tray

According to some Walgreens employees on Reddit, single-serve multi-packs of wine are the most commonly ripped-off goods in the store. Think airline bottles of Sutter Home. “I wish people would just take the [explicit] box too when they steal,” said one annoyed employee. “I’m tired of finding empty boxes all over the store.”

“I hate that too…why just take one or two bottles?” another fed-up employee added. “If you’re bold enough to steal, then just take all of them.”

Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patch Original Acne

Rabizo Anatolii/Adobe woman using acne patch on face

These popular pimple patches are known for being a gentle yet super-effective way to banish zits. They work quite well — so well, in fact, that many Walgreens stores have them sealed in tamper-proof boxes.

One clerk even said the pimple patches that “work” are the ones that get stolen, so if your brand isn’t in theft-proof packaging, you might want to consider switching.


V. Levkina/Adobe Disposable female razor on pink background

Razor blades — especially the nicer models — can be a high-dollar item and are among the most commonly stolen goods. These stolen cartridges are frequently resold at flea markets, on street corners, or in less-than-by-the-books corner stores.

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Baby formula

Africa Studio/Adobe Baby milk formula on kitchen counter

Many families rely on baby formula, but due to recent shortages and its already high sticker price, a one-year supply can cost upwards of $2,280, leading many to steal. If you need formula on your next store run, a clerk will probably need to unlock the case for you. Or they might just bring the canister directly to the register to make sure you don’t forget to pay.


Roman Tiraspolsky/Adobe Tide detergent on store shelf

At least shoplifters are wearing clean clothes. Tide and other laundry detergents are other big-ticket items that are frequently stolen. Like razors and cigarettes, Tide holds street-value currency where it can be traded for cash or other goods.

Cough syrup

Syda Productions/Adobe woman pouring medicated syrup to spoon

Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are a common target for theft, and cough syrup is especially in demand. Thieves are after the illicit ingredients in the cough syrup, used to mix with drinks or make methamphetamine.


Steve Cukrov/Adobe full size chocolates for halloween

Candy and snack goods are small, inconspicuous, and easy to pocket.


ronstik/Adobe makeup products and accessories on table

Cosmetics are in high demand, can have a high sticker price, and are usually easy to hide in a pocket or bag. Increasingly, many cosmetic items are in locked cases or under heavy surveillance, like live video monitoring and theft-deterrent mirrors.

Phone charging cords

damrong/Adobe smartphone connected to charger

Small in size yet needed by everyone, phone charging cords are another common target for theft — especially when these goods are easily resold online. Other phone accessories like charging blocks and phone cases are also pocketed.

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cristovao31/Adobe toothpaste poured over toothbrush

Some Walgreens actually have toothpaste in locked cases. Like lotion and cosmetics, it’s a small household good that everyone (hopefully) uses and comes in an easy-to-steal size.


TATIANA/Adobe woman washing hair over pink background

Shampoos — and other hair care products like conditioner, gel, and styling creams — also top the list of commonly stolen goods. While it’s not fancy jewelry or electronics, stolen shampoo can be resold online or in other brick-and-mortar stores.


Maryia/Adobe Solid antiperspirant over pink background

Yes, sticks of Suave, Old Spice, and Degree are commonly locked up in Walgreens stores. Deodorant — along with toothpaste, lipstick, and other small, higher-price items — are craved products: concealable, removable, available, enjoyable, and disposable.


Юлия Александрова/Adobe pairs of sunglasses on wooden board

Sunglasses are another easy-to-steal item. They’re not just easy to pocket. Brazen thieves can put them on their faces and walk right out of the store.

Nicorette gum

Pranav/Adobe Nicorette medicated nicotine chewing gum

Walgreens employees on Reddit share that Nicorette gum is another high-theft item. Nicorette has a large resale market among looking-to-quit smokers who balk at the in-store prices — often $57 per pack or more.

Bottom line

jetcityimage/Adobe Walgreens Retail Location from outside

With soaring inflation and an eager after-market for stolen goods — where consumers are unaware they’re buying hot merch — shoplifting at Walgreens is a persistent, unfortunate truth.

Walgreens is fighting back, so you can continue shopping there and keep more money in your wallet. It continues to take anti-theft measures to deter would-be pickpocketers and collaborates with other retailers to go after organized crime rings.

While it can be annoying that the shampoo or skin care you want to pick up is under lock and key, consider it a good sign that these goods work so well that people want to steal them.

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Author Details

Stacy Garrels Stacy enjoys writing about fintech, consumer deals, the side hustle economy, and random tomfoolery. She's personally tried more than 100 different gigs, including being an Uber driver for one afternoon.

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