"There's a black market for everything," said New Jersey State Police Officer Olive Sissman at the time of an arrest over 42,000 pounds of stolen cheese, according to Channel3000.com. The cheese was being stolen under falsified transportation papers. "We've seen everything stolen. We've found stolen beer, stolen food, stolen machine parts, but this is the first time we've found stolen cheese."
As the number of food items stolen for re-sale increases, so does the theft of transportational means for the goods. Freightwatch International reported that food and beverage goods made up 16 percent of cargo thefts in 2015, with over 178 reported in the second quarter alone.
Authorities speculate that this boosting trend is on the rise in several states and regions as stolen food is difficult to trace and makes a high profit when resold, according to The Eater. Additionally, some involved with the scene have stated low punishment might be influencing the rising thefts.
"It’s a slap on the wrist," said Rocky Pipkin, President of the Pipkin Detective Agency, in a statement to The Eater. "Even if [thieves] get caught — and very few have gotten caught — unless the Feds get involved and rope up all the people facilitating the transport and such of the large quantities, then it’s grand theft." According to Pipkin, that equals to very little jail time, and sometimes none at all.
The Eater reported that the Sherriff’s Department of Tulare County stated that thieves of any perishable food items are organized and very familiar with the industries which they infringe upon.
No matter the commodity, authorities have speculated that stolen items tend to mirror the rise of legitimate markets, and can actually impact consumers’ price of wholesomely purchased goods.
"The theft trends tend to follow the market for any good — not just an agricultural good — and it becomes more of interest to people who want to get their hands on that product illegitimately," stated David Kranz, Manager of Communications/News Division at the California Farm Bureau Federation.
Sherrif Mike Boudreaux of Tulare, CA, did state that in line with the uptick of food-based theft comes an effort from authorities to crack down on the crime, with an additional push with the FBI for state-supporting legislation.
As authorities continue to balance out the rising world of food-based crime, keep clicking back with DeliMarket News for the latest in industry-related trends and their subsequent impact.