BURBANK (CBSLA.com) — The price of meat is soaring, and so is the number of meat thefts. Many markets are reporting meat is the most-stolen item.

Security cameras have captured thieves snatching packages of beef and hiding them underneath their clothes. Some even use children to steal steak.

High prices are one reason behind this recent string of meat thefts. A San Gabriel Valley meat market recently had $15,000 worth of beef stolen from a delivery dock.

Armando De La Torre is a butcher at Handy Market in Burbank. He said he is quite aware thieves are looking to get their hands on meat for themselves or to resell it.

“You take one box of filet mignon. It might be $650,” said De La Torre. “Our drivers go ahead and actually bring our meat in. And they actually store it on the shelves for us. You have to really keep a really close eye because everything is nickels and dimes as far as meat goes.”

He said in his 45 years in the meat business, “this is biggest increase I’ve ever seen in one jump. “Something that used to be like $3.50 a pound went up to like $7, $8,” De La Torre said.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the price for a pound of meat has nearly doubled in the past year – something shoppers like Kevin Pityinger, who feeds a family of four, are painfully aware of.

“I do not buy steak that often any more. Usually, I wait until it goes on sale because the prices are just exorbitant,” Pityinger said.

Industry experts blame the skyrocketing prices on the drought in the Midwest. But there is good news. They said prices could come down soon.

De La Torre said “Prices are leveling off. They’re starting to come down a little bit. And I hope that’s the trend.”

Analysts said supply is building back up. Some retailers are now considering anti-theft sensors so they won’t be left wondering: “Where’s the beef?”

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