Saturday Morning – Pancakes or Waffles?
Do you remember reading or hearing about the Great Maple Syrup Heist in Quebec back in July? I didn't write about it (although I was considering it) but it got a lot of airplay on the tv networks at the time. The theft of 6 million pounds of stored maple syrup took place over a period of time but was only discovered in July when a warehouse inspector found a few empty drums that should have been full. It was announced on Wednesday of this week that three men were arrested Tuesday for involvement in the thefts and perhaps five more are being sought.
Quebec produces between 70% and 80% of the world's supply of maple syrup and their harvests are almost entirely controlled by a cartel cooperative that stores and then sells the product to bottlers, etc. The raw, pasteurized syrup is stored in 54-gal. drums in two large warehouses from where they are shipped out. In order to protect their prices, the harvests are monitored and if the year's production is higher than they wish, then the excess is stored separately and used as a reserve during times of under-harvest. The 2011 crop was so successful and excessive that a third warehouse was needed to store the reserve and this was the location of the theft. Their reserve now holds about 46 million pounds of syrup.
Drums of maple syrup in the global strategic reserve in Quebec. (New York Times / Vachon)
The New York Times provided some background on the operation:
On Tuesday, the police in Quebec arrested three men in connection with the theft from the warehouse, which is southwest of Quebec City. The authorities are searching for five others suspected of being involved, and law enforcement agencies in other parts of Canada and the United States are trying to recover some of the stolen syrup.
The spring of 2011 produced so much maple syrup that the federation added a third rented warehouse, in an industrial park alongside a busy highway in Saint-Louis-de-Blandford, to accommodate the overflow. The surplus was pasteurized and packed into 16,000 drums, each holding 54 gallons, and left to rest except for inspections twice a year.
Lt. Guy Lapointe of the Sûreté du Québec, the police force that led the investigation, said that the thieves rented another portion of the warehouse for an unrelated business. That enabled them to drive large trucks into the building. "They were basically inside guys," Lieutenant Lapointe said. "The leader wasn’t with the federation, but he had access to the warehouse that would not attract any suspicion." When no one else was around, Lieutenant Lapointe said, the thieves gradually began emptying syrup barrels. Some Quebec news reports indicated that they also filled some barrels with water to disguise the theft.
Over time, the thieves helped themselves to six million pounds of syrup. Mr. Trépanier said their work was discovered in July, when inspectors found a few empty barrels. The full extent of the theft, he said, became clear once the police arrived.
The police spared no resources. Lieutenant Lapointe said that about 300 people were questioned and 40 search warrants executed. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement service joined the investigation.
If you're interested in learning more about the crime and the investigation, including how the thieves were able to sell off the stolen product for full price in a controlled market, read the full ARTICLE HERE.
Prices on the grocers' shelves won't be coming down, so don't get your hopes up. Meanwhile, we'll check our own supplies and get our equipment checked out for today. Our little warehouse has plenty of coffee in it, so I'll get more going in the Bunn-O-Matic. See you back in the day room in a little while.
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