What would be your guess for the most stolen foodstuff in the world? Wine? No. Caviar? Nope. Truffles? Uh-uh. While those may be among most expensive foods in the world, they aren't the most delicious and they are not the most stolen. Both those titles are owned by one food alone, cheese. It's estimated that 4% of the world's production of cheese, annually, is stolen. And that 4% is in shoplifting cases; it doesn't even include the Ocean's 11-style heists that go on in the world of high-end dairy products. People take their cheese so seriously, there is clearly a strong black market for the best of the best. And I for one, want in on this black market.
Just last week, 700 blocks of fancy French cheese, called Saint-Nectaire, were stolen by cheese thieves in the tiny town of Beaune-Le-Froid, France. That's nearly $14,000 worth of cheese! I'm envisioning a dinner like the one in the Marlon Brando/Matthew Brodrick vehicle "The Freshmen" where the aristocracy from all over the world come together for meals of endangered animals and stolen cheese.
They would have plenty of cheese to pair with their Komodo Dragon steaks. The Saint-Nectaire cheese stolen last week is hardly unique. The list of big-time cheese heists is not only long but not confined to any one country. All the great cheese-producing countries have fallen victim to curd-burglars. In 2015, thieves were arrested in Modena, Italy after they successfully lifted a whopping $875,000 worth of Parmigiano-Reggiano from warehouses around the country over the previous two years. We can only hope they drove through the old Italian sewers in Mini Coopers, right?
England has been traumatized too. In the summer of 2017, two prize-winning wheels of cheddar from Wyke Farms in Somerset were stolen mere hours after they were awarded the top prizes in a cheese competition. They've offered an award of £500 but the wheels were worth an estimated £800 so the math might not be working in the victim's favor.
The yanks are not left out of all this cheese thievery. In January of 2016, robbers in Wisconsin made off with $90,000 in Parmesan and a week later, some thieves nabbed nearly $70,000 in "cheese-like products" in Wisconsin. Cheese-like products? Like Kraft singles? Cheese in a can? The weird St. Louis delicacy called Provel? Why would anyone steal that stuff?
There are two popular theories, one, that it's a "CRAVED" product. Craved is a term that loss-prevention experts use. CRAVED stands for Concealable, Removable, Available, Valuable, Enjoyable and Disposable. Long acronym short, it's easy to steal cheese. These bigger heists though, those cheeses, experts theorize, end up on the black market and on the dishes at your favorite restaurants.
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