Beef thief seeks meat freaks

What's with this sudden black market in stolen groceries?

Carolyn Grant

I’m back folks. Your ace reporter covering the stolen food beat. In previous columns we’ve discussed the dark business of smuggling cheese in Canada, and the dirty underside of corn theft in South America.

We’re back in Canada this week covering the dastardly crime of beef theft.

Yes, beef theft. You might think I’m talking about cattle rustling, maybe in Alberta. But instead of beef on the hoof, the latest crime in the food world involves a truckload of refrigerated beef. Yes, sometime between 5:30 p.m. EDT Sunday and 2:15 p.m. EDT Monday, 40,000 pounds of beef was stolen from a commercial truck yard in Ancaster, Ontario.

Now I know the first thing that popped into your collective minds — as it did mine — was a vision of a person opening the back of the trailer and crying out in surprise, “Where’s the beef?”

That would be too good. And it did not happen because, also taken? The truck. So perhaps it was merely a cry of ‘Where’s the truck?’ that drifted through the yard.

Now a commercial truck would be big bucks so maybe the beef was just a by-product of the theft and the purloined sirloin will be found in a moulding mound somewhere beside the road, the truck long gone.

But what if it wasn’t the truck the thieves wanted but the beef? 40,000 pounds of beef is worth about $100,000, which is not chump change, but how does one dispose of, and/or package for sale, that amount of beef before it ripens beyond saleabiity? Dividing it into 40,000 individually packaged portions seems a trifle labour-intensive.

I think we’re going to go with the hypothesis that the thieves wanted the truck and trailer, not so much what it contained.

Which leaves us with the original question? What does one do with 40,000 pounds of beef?

Suggestions?

Maybe it could be used to create jumps for aspiring aerialist skiers? Seeing as RCR doesn’t allow jumps on their ski hills, if you got the beef shaped properly then prayed for an early freeze up, you’d be flying off beef hills all winter. It does create a bit of a problem in the spring though. The last thing you’d want is a meat slide.

However, they could want the beef. It wouldn’t be the first time someone stole large quantities of meat.

Earlier this year in New Jersey, 3,000 cartons of hamburger patties were stolen. Also worth $100,000 just like the recently burgled Canadian beef. Hmm, coincidence?

Also stolen this year, $65,000 worth of chicken wings in Atlanta, and $75,000 worth of soup in Florida. No word on whether it was vegetable beef or chicken noodle.

But it’s not just meat being stolen in this shady world of grocery theft. In Germany, 11,000 pounds of Nutella was stolen — and here’s the strange part — no bread was taken. Last year in Quebec six million pounds of maple syrup was lifted from a warehouse. Last October, two trucks containing $300,000, or 84,000 pounds, of walnuts were stolen.

So where is all this stolen food going? Is there a giant tailgate party somewhere that I don’t know about? If so, is there any chance I can get an invitation? It looks like the snacks are pretty much taken care of but I could bring bread in case anyone wants to make roast beef, or Nutella, sandwich.

Carolyn Grant is Editor of the

Kimberley Daily Bulletin