5 Deliciously Illegal Food Crimes

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Think smuggling and heists are just for drugs, jewels, and art? Think again. Here are five instances of food-related theft.

1. Oh, crepe!

On April 8, thieves in Germany made off with 5 metric tons of Nutella chocolate-hazelnut spread—estimated worth: $20,710—from a trailer parked in Bad Hersfeld. The owners of the lot might want to consider hiring security guards; reportedly, a load of energy drinks was also stolen from that location.

2. Think of the Pancakes

Aunt Jemima would be horrified: In 2012, police in Quebec made three arrests in the theft of six million pounds of syrup from Canada’s strategic maple syrup reserve. The thieves rented a separate portion of the reserve’s Saint-Louis-de-Blandford warehouse, which contained 16,000 54-gallon barrels, for an unrelated business—and when no one was around, they siphoned syrup from those barrels. They even filled some barrels with water to disguise their crime, which was eventually discovered during one of the facility’s biannual inspections.

The thieves sold the syrup themselves from a shop in nearby New Brunswick and shipped it to buyers in Ontario, Vermont, and New Hampshire. Approximately two-thirds of the stolen syrup has been located, and authorities are trying to seize it—but even if they don’t, the owners of the pilfered product won’t lose: The syrup is insured.

3. So Cheesy

Research has shown that cheese is the most stolen food in the world. Even so, it’s weird to read the words “international cheese smuggling network.” But that’s exactly what three people (one current and one former Canadian police officer and an American accomplice) were busted for in 2012. They were charged with buying brick cheese—which is commonly used for pizza toppings—in the United States and transporting it to Canada hidden in their vehicles. Because cheese in the U.S. costs one-third of what it does in Canada, drivers were able to make $1000 to $2000 a trip, for a total profit of $165,000.

4. What stinks?

In January, Sweden issued arrest warrants for Brits suspected of illegally importing Chinese garlic into the European Union between 2009 and 2010. The EU has a 9.6 percent duty and an additional $1600 per tonne on imported garlic; to get around the tax, which would have amounted to more than $13 million, the criminals shipped their stinky loot to Norway by boat, where it entered duty-free, then drove it into Sweden on trucks. It’s not the first time this has happened, either: There were two garlic smuggling busts in the UK in 2012.

5. Muenster Truck

Last month, an Illinois man was busted in New Jersey driving an 18-wheeler loaded with 42,000 pounds of pilfered Muenster cheese worth an estimated $200,000. The 34-year-old reportedly provided false paperwork to K&K Cheese in Cashton, Wisconsin, to get his hands on the cheese, and planned to sell the loot well under market value to retailers along the east coast. If the cheese is deemed safe after inspection, it will be donated to charity.

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April 9, 2013 - 5:00pm
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