The massive increase in bread basket theft over the festive period is definitely more ‘bah humbug’ than ‘ho, ho, ho’! Steve Millward, General Manager at Bakers Basco, explains why it happens and warns the perpetrators of the consequences.

Christmas may be the season of goodwill, but the reverse is the case when it comes to bread baskets. Over the festive period, the theft of these essential bakery assets takes on a life of its own, increasing by a staggering amount.

Although they are a Christmas present that secretly every baking business longs for, they don’t make it on to anyone’s gift list – so one thing’s for sure, they are not being stolen to be festively wrapped and given away as presents. No, the criminals who are doing this – who generally operate from inside the industry – do it out of a mix of thoughtlessness, laziness and greed.

Thoughtless because stealing or throwing away the baskets ignores the damage this causes to both baking industry and the environment at a time of year when people are supposed to be thinking of others. Laziness because it’s easier to throw them away than return them in the proper manner. Greedy because stealing them means they save the money they would have to spend to legitimately buy them. All in all, this criminal practice smacks more of Scrooge and the Grinch than Father Christmas!

Bread products are normally delivered over a seven-day period. However, this shrinks to six days over Christmas. The supply of baskets is increased considerably – in Basco’s case to a total of approximately four million baskets and/or wheels. This is because of the concentrated delivery period. This is the same for any baker, which means that they need to make sure they order additional basket stock over this busy period. Any disruption to bread baskets could cause disruption to bread supplies which, in turn, could result in many families left without their turkey sandwich on Boxing Day.

The reality is, however, that many do not, resulting in a huge increase in theft. Essentially, this is because they will actively go out to steal other baker’s baskets to make up for the deficit that has been of their own making.

The problem is that going down this route could really ruin Christmas for the perpetrators. Why? Because more and more bread basket abusers are being caught and dealt with, thanks to improved auditing, tracking technology and intelligence – more people are coming forward to inform on the criminals.

So before stealing someone else’s basket this year, consider what Christmas is all about: giving, not taking. Think about the damage this is doing to your own industry, not forgetting the environmental impact as a result of equipment not being returned and ending up in landfill. And think about the fact that there is every likelihood you will get caught and prosecuted. And that’s a Christmas present no one wants.

Happy Christmas to everyone – unless you’re a bread basket abuser!