It takes some real outside of the box thinking to become a career food criminal. Though there are no doubt thousands of amateur shoplifters who have accidentally or otherwise waltzed out of a supermarket with an extra packet of crisps, the professionals have much loftier ambitions. For anyone with imagination, food can be a seriously lucrative business.
In order to attempt to make their millions, foodie master crooks have come up with a wealth of bizarre ploys. When they come off, these capers prove that the food industry is far from the never ending cycle of selling, cooking and eating that it can seem to the untrained eye.
1. The Napa Christmas Wine-napping
California is world renowned for its vineyards, producing nearly 17 million gallons of the good stuff every year. With so much potential cash flowing through the region, it’s little wonder that criminals have taken notice. On Christmas Day in 2014, an enterprising gang managed to get away with around $300,000 worth of bottles from a prestigious winery. Remarkably, all but four of the bottles were found less than a month later - with no clue as to who had bought or sold them.
2. The Comte Crime
Praised for its unique nutty flavour, Comte cheese is a great source of regional pride in France. Made from unpasteurised cows milk, it was, until relatively recently, difficult to purchase outside the eastern parts of the country, which may have been one of the motivators between a 2015 theft. A gang broke into a warehouse and made off with nearly 9,000 pounds of cheese, worth about $43,000 on the black market. For the hassle of dealing with nearly 5 tonnes of cheese, 40 grand doesn’t really seem worth it.
3. The Crab Con
Anyone who’s watched The Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch knows all about the riches on offer in the king crab industry. Rather than risking their life on the high seas, a small group of crooks simply decided to steal what had already been caught. Using forklift trucks and possible inside assistance, the gang of three were able to escape with $271,000 worth of crab and get away scot free.
4. Wine Fit For a King
When any food or drink has an important destination, extra security measures are always taken. For some people, this just adds an exciting element to the challenge of breaking in. An elaborate raid on the Royal Family’s wine cellar in 2015 saw thieves nab an enormous £1.5 million pounds worth of classic wines, dodging lasers and alarms in the process. Allegedly, the group even cracked open and drank a bottle of champagne before making their escape.
5. Coffin full of Caviar
As one of the most luxurious ingredients on the market, beluga caviar commands a hefty price tag. This can prompt some seriously elaborate schemes from those determined to get hold of it. One of the most remarkable came when police stopped a speeding hearse in Russia. To authorities’ shock, the transport was not filled with the remains of recently deceased loved one, but instead with nearly half a million dollars in tinned fish eggs. The drivers both claimed to have no knowledge of the incident.
When you think of theft, you could be given for assuming the jewels, gold or cash are always the target. As this collection of capers clearly proves, there is more than one way that criminals look to get a quick buck. Maybe you’re better off guarding that expensive bottle of bubbly a little more carefully.