Wisconsin police found a massive load of stolen Parmesan cheese after they received a tip that the shipment was being kept in a warehouse in Grand Chute. Marshfield Police Lt. Darren Larson told the Associated Press that the cheese — which is valued at around $90,000 — had been picked up as scheduled, but it never reached its intended destination in Illinois.
The 41,000 pounds of stolen Le Sueur Parmesan cheese disappeared on Jan. 15 from a Marshfield distributor. Earlier this month, $160,000 worth of cheese was stolen by thieves in two separate heists.
WOW Logistics, which has millions of square feet of multi-temperature warehousing in areas across the United States, learned of the theft when the shipment failed to make to its destination in Illinois.
The other theft occurred on January 22, when a trailer containing $70,000 worth of cheddar and other cheese produced in Germantown was stolen from D&G Transportation. Authorities recently announced that that shipment was recovered in Milwaukee at two separate locations.
Larson said on Thursday night that the 41,000 pounds of Parmesan cheese was recovered over 100 miles from the location where it was stolen from. The Parmesan cheese was found unspoiled and intact in a Grand Chute warehouse, police said. It’s believed the intended destination of the cheese was Elgin, Illinois, but police have not been able to find the semi trailer that hauled away the shipment. No one is in custody; although, police are following some leads, a report from Newsweek states.
“This is a large quantity of cheese,” Larson told reporters. “It’s being held at a facility currently until we can make some determination as to what the next logical step would be, whether that’s to return it to the original owners, we’re still working through that.”
“All of the cheese was recovered. I believe that the intention was to sell the cheese. Right now, we’re exploring all investigative options,” Lieutenant James Theep of the Germantown Police Department added.
Wisconsin police were able to locate the stolen goods thanks to help they received from one of their Facebook followers. Police managed to track down the trailer that carried the stolen cheese, but it was empty when they found it.
Police have not released any further details and have not said whether the two heists are related.
Wisconsin has a long tradition and history of cheese production and the state is widely associated in popular culture with cheese and the dairy industry. Ever since 2013, Wisconsin has been the largest cheese producer in the United States, making over 600 different cheese varieties. It is the only U.S. state that requires a licensed cheesemaker to supervise the making of commercial cheese. Thousands of dairy farms are scattered across the state and they produce billions of pounds of cheese per year, information from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board reveals. Approximately a quarter of all cheese made in the U.S. comes from Wisconsin.
The Grate Cheese Robbery! Wisconsin police recover 41,000 pounds of stolen Parmesan cheese… one week after r… https://t.co/zPss2UsZJg
— Aristotele Onagio (@a_onagio) January 29, 2016
A recent global study from the U.K.’s Center for Retail Research — which surveyed 1,187 retailers representing more than 250,000 retail outlets across 43 countries — revealed that cheese is the most stolen food in the world and the data showed that four percent of cheese went missing from store shelves.
“The biggest threats for retailers are employees and shoplifters,” said Dr. Joshua Bamfield, Director of the Center for Retail Research.
Due to increasing cheese prices, Bamfield says stealing cheese is “a lucrative business opportunity for small time criminals.”
“It’s not just grannies saying, I need some cheese I’ll just go and steal it. A lot of the theft is for resale and a lot of this cheese will be resold into other markets or to restaurants,” he said.
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