The Great Maple Syrup Heist
Canadian police arrest three men they believe stole
$18 million worth of maple syrup
The thieves bottled the stolen syrup and sold it throughout Canada and the United States. (istockphoto.com)
Could the syrup-drenched pancakes on your breakfast table be evidence in a robbery investigation? Three men in Canada were recently arrested and charged with stealing $18 million worth of the country’s famous maple syrup. The tasty topping was bottled and then sold throughout Canada and the United States.
The syrup was stolen from the Global Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve near Quebec City, the capital of the Canadian province of Quebec. Forty-six million pounds of syrup are stored at the reserve (a supply of something saved for the future), which spans three warehouses. The theft was discovered in July, when the reserve audited, or double-checked, the supply.
Three men were arrested in connection with the heist. Officials are also searching for five other suspects.
STEALING THE SYRUP
The alleged syrup thieves had rented a part of one of the syrup warehouses for a separate business. Over time, they emptied barrels of the syrup and loaded the condiment onto their trucks. They may have also poured water into the empty barrels to make it seem like no syrup was missing.
Ultimately, they stole 6 million pounds of syrup. That makes it the largest agricultural, or farm-based, theft ever.
“To steal that amount of maple syrup means you have to know the market,” Simon Trépanier, acting director of the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, told the magazine Bloomberg BusinessWeek. “We are talking about big players.”
Once the theft was discovered, police immediately began an investigation. They joined forces with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police—Canada’s national police force—and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement service to track down the breakfast-food bandits.
The maple tree is an important national symbol in Canada. The Canadian flag even features a red maple leaf.
The province of Quebec is the top maple syrup producer in the world. Each year, farmers in the region provide between 70 percent and 78 percent of the world’s maple syrup supply.
The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers regulates prices for syrup. The group also manages the reserve, which stores syrup for when resources are scarce, or limited.
Critics say the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers makes syrup too expensive by restricting syrup sales. Maple syrup currently sells for $1,800 a barrel—at least 15 times the price of oil! Some officials believe the recent crime may have been influenced by the high price of syrup, which made the crime too sweet to resist.