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Hy-Vee, Where’s There’s a Helpful Smile and a Gun in Every Aisle!

I got my coronavirus booster shot at Hy-Vee. Now there’s a greater chance that I’ll just get shot:

As part of its ongoing efforts to ensure the health and safety of both its customers and employees, Hy-Vee is introducing its new Hy-Vee Retail Security team to retail stores across its eight-state region.

Hy-Vee Retail Security officers will be present in Hy-Vee stores during operating hours. These officers, many of whom come from a law enforcement background, are specially trained to defuse situations and equipped to protect the safety of both Hy-Vee customers and employees. The officers have been through training designed by Hy-Vee retail security leaders alongside law enforcement partners.

“Hy-Vee has a strong history of doing anything for our customers, and these officers will be held to that same standard,” said Jeremy Gosch, Hy-Vee’s president and chief operating officer. “These officers will help provide another layer of safety and security for our customers, and will work alongside our store employees to deliver the same helpful smiles and outstanding service everyone expects at their local store.”

Officers are in several stores now, and more officers are completing the Hy-Vee Retail Security Training program so they can begin serving in other Hy-Vee stores across the company’s eight-state region in the near future. Hy-Vee is actively recruiting for officers to join the new Hy-Vee Retail Security team. Interested applicants can connect with the Retail Security team at [Hy-Vee, press release, 2021.12.29].

Promotional B-roll from Hy-Vee shows its security forces will carry pistols, tasers, and body cams…

Walks right by the guy in camo pants—come on, Hy-Vee Security! Keep your eyes open for domestic terrorists! Hy-Vee promotional video, posted by Minnesota News Now, YouTube, 2021.12.29.
Walks right by the guy in camo pants—come on, Hy-Vee Security! Keep your eyes open for domestic terrorists! Hy-Vee promotional video, posted by Minnesota News Now, YouTube, 2021.12.29.
There's the perp who was squeezing the Charmin! Go get him! Hy-Vee promotional video, posted by Minnesota News Now, YouTube, 2021.12.29.
There’s the perp who was squeezing the Charmin! Go get him! Hy-Vee promotional video, posted by Minnesota News Now, YouTube, 2021.12.29.

…but what, no scanners for price checks?

Hy-Vee cites an increase in retail thefts nationwide to justify deploying armed guards:

”I think across the country, we’re seeing an increase in thefts and different crimes in retail locations,” said Hy-Vee Vice President of Security Jamie Sipes.” So HyVee made the decision to move forward with a forward facing security program that includes the tools that an officer would need to keep employees and customers safe” [Michael Van Scholk, “Hy-Vee Adding Team of Armed Retail Security Officers Across Some Stores,” KY3-TV, Springfield, Missouri, 2021.12.29].

I’ll take data over one exec’s thinking. Data on the actual amount of retail theft is hard to come by, in part because the National Retail Federation stopped publishing detailed breakdowns of the retail losses in 2019. However, the last the NRF reporting, the share of shrink due to retail theft was decreasing:

Although the NRF publishes its organized retail crime estimates each year, the group stopped publishing a detailed breakdown of the sources of shrink in 2019. But in 2018 its survey found that 35.7% of shrink came from shoplifting or organized retail crime, and 33.2% came from employee theft. Both percentages had declined since 2015, and a different sort of risk — paperwork error — hit 18.8% of total shrink in 2018 [Sam Dean, “Retailers Say Thefts Are at Crisis Level. The Numbers Say Otherwise,” Los Angeles Times, 2021.12.15].

FBI and California law enforcement data also indicate a long-term downward trend in shoplifting:

Broader crime statistics paint a picture of a decreasing problem, not one on the rise. National crime statistics from the FBI show shoplifting decreasing steadily every year from 2015 through 2020, the most recent data available. Larceny — the taking of property without using force or breaking in — declined 16% between 2010 and 2019, then dipped even lower in 2020, the data indicate.

At a local level, more up-to-date statistics sharpen the image of a waning problem. Property crime in Los Angeles is up 2.6% from last year, according to LAPD numbers published Nov. 27, but down 6.6% from 2019. The category that includes shoplifting — “personal/other theft” per LAPD — is down 32% from 2019. A San Francisco Chronicle analysis of that city’s shoplifting crime data showed that the number of monthly reports had changed little in the last three years, though it also raised some major questions about the accuracy of shoplifting reporting to law enforcement. Smash-and-grab thefts are classified differently because they involve violence, trespassing and high-value hauls, and suspects have been charged with robbery, burglary or grand theft after recent incidents in L.A. and San Francisco [Dean, 2021.12.15].

And you’re not going to see spectacular mob robs at Hy-Vee, because they aren’t selling high-value non-perishable goods with reslae value.

But maybe Hy-Vee is just trying to avoid the real cause for concern, violence committed by Second Amendment psychos and anti-mask cranks:

More recently—and far more commonly—retail workers and sometimes patrons have had to put up with a wave of assaults during the pandemic, including a number of murders. Many of these attacks have been provoked by simple safety protocols, and this violence, combined with the industry’s low pay, has helped make retail-job openings particularly difficult to fill this year. Understaffed stores can invite more theft, as can stores where existing employees hate their job. How many people who make $12 an hour to get screamed at by strangers for 31 hours a week (any more and the company would have to give them health insurance) are going to interrupt someone dumping bottles of shampoo into a garbage bag so that they can save their corporate overlords a rounding error’s worth of losses? Is it worth finding out if that guy has a gun?

If we’re concerned with the types of crime that destroy lives and businesses, endanger retail workers on the job, and discourage people from going out to enjoy themselves, then shoplifting is the wrong crime to focus on. The problem is violence, which frequently has nothing to do with shoplifting at all. But shoplifting is an easier conversation for the retail industry to have, and one that plenty of people—journalists included—are keen to get in on [Amanda Mull, “The Great Shoplifting Freak-Out,” The Atlantic, 2021.12.23].

One more gun in the grocery store is one more chance for someone to get shot. Hy-Vee is responding to a questionable crime problem with a “solution” that makes everyone less safe.


  1. sx123 2021-12-30 09:27

    Armed guard: “Ma’am, are you _sure_ you don’t want to buy more cabbage?”

    Country has gone mad.

  2. Donald Pay 2021-12-30 09:40

    Most shoplifting is not a priority for law enforcement in many communities, so that could be the reason for the decrease in crime statistics. Unless it’s smash and grab or big dollar amounts, cops don’t have the time to deal with simple five finger discounts on hamburger. Retailers have to do most of the leg work. Security cameras make that easier. If retailers catch someone shoplifting they often make the customer pay for it. It’s kind of like, “You can pay for this, or we will press charges.” Most people find a way to pay.

  3. Mark Anderson 2021-12-30 10:01

    Well Cory you early riser, I took a photograph of ammunition and whiskey together at Kesslers in Aberdeen, years ago to send to my friends. I always like to show where I came from. Soon it will be everywhere.

  4. Richard Schriever 2021-12-30 10:27

    As Ms. Mull said on Chris Hayes last might, “When we make policy decisions based on bad data, (and the “giant rise in theft” data is bad, as it is due to so many stores being closed in 2020) we make bad policy decisions.”

  5. buckobear 2021-12-30 10:35

    Will give a whole new meaning to “Wet clean-up in aisle four,’ eh?

  6. M 2021-12-30 10:49

    Another solution to a problem that has been overblown. Headlines “Old homeless man shot at Hy-Vee while fleeing from the store. He was accused of shoplifting but it was later determined that he was emptying his pockets instead of filling them up.”

    I also smell some future profiling around the corner.

  7. Marie 2021-12-30 11:20

    Gov. Noem and South Dakota’s legislators littered South Dakota with guns long before armed security guards arrived at Hyvee.

    Governor Noem and South Dakota legislators have been easy marks for passing outlier NRA and gun lobby legislation graded “F” by Giffords Law Center.
    As the Wall Street Journal notes, South Dakota ranks 44th in gun safe laws.

    South Dakota households are already highly armed.

    As CBS News and Rand have noted, South Dakota household gun ownership ranks 9th with 55% of households owning guns—versus 30% for the U.S.

    South Dakotans continue to buy guns at high rates.

    The Wall Street Journal notes that South Dakota ranked 12th in 2019 and 14th in 2020 in background checks for firearm purchases.

    The U.S. is an outlier nation littered with guns. More guns—more gun violence.

    Sadly, South Dakota continues to lead in this deadly endeavor.

  8. larry kurtz 2021-12-30 11:23

    Sidearms for the preborn!

  9. Tom 2021-12-30 12:32

    it appears firearms will decide the decades-old fight: Certs is a breath mint or candy mint? Volley folly…

  10. WillyNilly 2021-12-30 16:06

    Well, another bad decision from the people who bring you HyVee stores over-filled with liquor and candy. In recent years HyVee has had several missteps. In SF the competition came in with lower prices, efficient stores and quickly trampled all over the popular brand that tried to bring you everything. And then charged up to a dollar an item more than you could get it from the new guys. I’m ok with their produce section but I never purchase meat or bread products there. But then, why bother when I’m already in Fareway.

  11. Eve Fisher 2021-12-30 16:07

    Hy-Vee, where they decided to take all the plexiglass sneeze-guards down between the cashiers and the public before the end of Covid, make masks optional even for employees, but are now going to have armed guards watching the self-check out line.

  12. mike from iowa 2021-12-30 16:21

    Shop Hy-Vee, where there’s a s**t eating grin on every chin. Us warehouseman at the old Hy-Vee nightmare on Elm Street warehouse buildings in Cherokee used to say that

    Back in the day I was loyal to the brand. Not anymore. I prefer Fareway and Fiesta Foods in Hartley, iowa, right on US 18.

  13. jerry 2021-12-30 18:11

    Amazon has all that you need, and they deliver it right to your door. Hy vee is so yesterday.

  14. Loren 2021-12-30 21:13

    The first time I got off a plane in a foreign country, only to encounter soldiers with automatic weapons, it didn’t make me feel safer. It made me feel like I was in the wrong country. If I have to encounter armed guards to buy milk and eggs, perhaps it is not safe to be in that store!

  15. grudznick 2021-12-30 21:54

    I don’t see anything wrong with this.

  16. jerry 2021-12-30 23:08

    Los Angeles police shot and killed a 14 year old white girl that was in a dressing room with her mother. They were shooting at someone else and the girl just happened to be in the way. That’s what can happen with a supposed trained person with a pistol. Just be careful out there in Hy Vee stores. The cross fire could be interesting and clearly the store could give a damn if you take one in the head or not. Bob and weave, all the time you’re shopping.

  17. M 2021-12-31 06:22

    It’s what gun lovers want…..guns in the public everywhere. Then you need to have guards or like at our state capitol, warrantless search and seizure facilities so the public doesn’t bring a gun in to a building but the people that work there are all carrying concealed weapons in their purses and pants. Look out for the guards if you accidently touch one of those Christmas displays.

    Let’s see, let’s put armed guards in malls, schools, movie theaters, bars, cafes, or anywhere else we go. It’s nothing a but an arms race in a war with ourselves. Not safe with all the nuts with guns and some of these cops for hire that look like they are ready for action. I’ll never go in to one of their stores. I have a way of looking at people wrong without meaning to because of my trifocals and that could cause me some harm.

  18. Jay Dee 2021-12-31 08:25

    I’m a former police officer. What do I know that you don’t? A police officer cannot be sued or prosecuted for failing to prevent a crime, stopping a crime in process or apprehending the the suspect. The so-called “Coward of Broward” was perfectly within his rights to take a “tactical position” while the shooter blazed away. The police are not coming to rescue your sorry gluteus maximus if you find yourself in a dangerous situation.
    Contrary to the wooly-headed notions of the soi-disant, it is not vigilante justice to shoot someone endeavoring to injure or murder you or a loved one. The rules are very straightforward if you choose to learn them.
    This may sound strange coming from a former police officer but one thing I learned is to tell who is trustworthy and who is not. Over the years I became quite comfortable with discreetly armed civilians who didn’t act like they were planning to murder or rob someone. You have to pay attention to your surroundings. They call this situational awareness. Just because someone has a gun doesn’t mean that they are going to start shooting everyone in sight. Your phobias get people killed. I personally believe that the person who called the police on John Crawford III should have been prosecuted.
    I own a gun and will carry it concealed if I think the situation warrants but my first rule is to avoid such situations. You’ve heard the admonition; “Don’t go to stupid places and do stupid things with stupid people.” Ignore it at your peril.

  19. jerry 2021-12-31 08:26

    I would be pro choice. I would choose to buy my refried beans at a different store, or make my own. Remember when you make your own beans, always use lard. Feet’s, don’t fail me now, to the Dollar Store we go.

  20. All Mammal aka Danielle Ulrickson 2021-12-31 11:38

    Since we are in South Dakota, buy meth instead. Here, it’s cheaper than food and I’ll bet they even deliver. Stay safe.

  21. Mark Anderson 2021-12-31 16:23

    Jerry, to the dollar and a quarter store you go.

  22. Bonnie B Fairbank 2021-12-31 17:36

    I mentioned in a previous thread/post I’d never heard of Hy-Vee (turns out it’s a grocery store + pharmacy), so my first “Huh?” reaction to guns in every aisle was, hey! Just like Walmart, sellin’ them guns everywhere to deeply disturbed morons. Imagine my relief when I learned I could merely get shot there, rather than buying guns’n’ammo.

  23. mike from iowa 2021-12-31 17:43

    History lesson, Ms Fairbank…. Hy-Vee was founded by Charles Hyde and David Vredenburg in Chariton iowa. back when and using magic prestidigitation, they pulled a grudzilla out of a rabbit hole and conjurred up the name Hy-Vee. Caution parts of this tale are true.

    Happy and safe New Year to all good and true posters on Cory’s blog.

  24. Bonnie B Fairbank 2021-12-31 18:08

    Thank you, mike from iowa. I like history lessons and truly wish you a Happy and safe New Year in return. Speaking of safe, I’ve noticed at least a doubling of citizens wearing KN95 masks in Hot Springs.
    Speaking of grudznick, he seems to be more incoherent than usual.

  25. Arlo Blundt 2022-01-01 21:47 my day, college students made up a significant group of food market shop lifters. Always hungry, always broke.

  26. sdslim 2022-01-02 16:17

    I don’t have a problem with armed security guards —– I do have a problem with a Walmart super center that has no in person checkers, and has multiple self check out lines!! How many dollars do you think walk right out the store doors with no one checking you out?? I read many years ago that retail figured about 12% of its merchandise walks right out the door. You have to charge the rest of us the difference to make up for it. I have a friend whose wife worked at Walmart. She was told if it didn’t look like over $70 was being stolen, ignore it. I enjoy Hy-vee, and will continue to shop there. Love the service and friendly staff —– even if you pay a little more!!

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