The Great Nutella Heist of ’17

May 21, 2018

…and other big, brazen thefts of huge amounts of very specific foods.

The Nutella heist

Nutella—a mixture of ground hazelnuts, chocolate, and a lot of sugar—is peanut butter’s sassy European cousin. People on both sides of the Atlantic are wild about it, particularly in Western Europe, and they’ll apparently do anything to get more of it. In August 2017, someone in the German city of Neustadt made off with 20 tons of chocolate products made by the Ferrero Company, most of it Nutella, and worth more than $80,000. They didn’t just steal the Nutella and other chocolate goodies—they stole the refrigerated semi-truck trailer that was full of the products. Police were initially baffled, as someone would have needed to hook up their own big-rig truck in order to effectively tow away such a heavy payload. (Elsewhere in Germany, on the same weekend that the Nutella truck disappeared, a trailer full of 30 tons of fruit juice was stolen.)

Beans, beans…

Beans, beans, the musical fruit, the more you eat the more you…could be accessory to grand larceny. In October 2013, a truck driver in charge of a full load of Heinz Baked Beans, pulled over near the English town of Redditch to take a nap. As he slept, thieves cut a hole into the trailer and quietly made off with about two pallets full of beans. The $10,000 worth of the food the English put on toast for breakfast were recovered.

Muenster monster!

Beware the Muenster monster! In 2013, a truck driver drove right into the warehouse of a Wisconsin cheese company and presented all the proper paperwork for his pick-up: a load of about 42,000 pounds of Munster cheese. When it was all packed up, he drove off. Only later did the cheese company employees realize that there was no pre-existing purchase order for 42,000 pounds of Muenster…and a manhunt for the man who stole $200,000 worth of cheese was on. Before long, 34-year-old Veniamin Balik was arrested at a rest area in New Jersey…were he was attempting to sell off his cheesy cargo.

$1.2 million in fajitas

A man named Gilberto Escamilla worked for the juvenile justice department in Cameron County, Texas, and made more than $1.2 million in the process. How did a civil servant pull in all that dough? He ran an elaborate, long-in-the-works fajitas scheme. Escamilla used his government position to order large quantities of fajita meat (seasoned steak strips), which were delivered to his office, ostensibly to be served in a juvenile justice cafeteria. Instead, he’d send them out to his regular customers, who had no idea that the meat was hot. Escamilla got caught when he took a sick day, and his co-workers couldn’t make sense of an 800-pound fajitas delivery for a cafeteria with less than 100 inmates.­