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Why Walgreens keeps shampoo behind locked glass

The drug retailer attempts to control theft.

Photograph: Andrew Nawrocki

I recently went to Walgreens to buy some Head & Shoulders dandruff shampoo. To my surprise, it was in a locked glass case, alongside boxes of Rogaine. It was somewhat embarrassing to have to find an employee to open the case and admit to her what I needed—yes, okay, I have a flaky scalp! So why does Walgreens keep shampoo and many other seemingly innocuous things on lockdown?—Brian, Bucktown

Several years ago, Walgreens started keeping all products containing pseudoephedrine (e.g., Sudafed) behind the pharmacy counter and requiring an ID to purchase them. As Breaking Bad viewers well know, the precautions were taken because the over-the-counter drug is a common ingredient in meth recipes. But there isn’t the same concern in the Deerfield-based drug retailer’s choice to imprison other goods: Kim Kardashian–endorsed diet pills, body wash, deodorant, heartburn-relief tablets, blood-glucose monitors, infant formula and yeast-infection cream. Some of the lockboxes carry a red sticker that reads: security alert! to keep our prices low, we have secured this product. “It’s pretty simple,” explains Walgreens spokesman Robert Elfinger. “We lock things up to avoid theft.” To determine which products get incarcerated, Elfinger says, the company examines its data on shrink—the items most often pilfered. Hard to believe thieves are targeting Vagisil.