Hide yo’ cheese, hide yo’ wine.
Italian police busted a crime ring suspected of stealing more than $250,000 in fine wine and Parmesan cheese. According to Italian media reports, the criminal gang nicked 16,000 bottles of fine wine (worth around $140,000) and 168 wheels of Parmesan cheese (worth more than $100,000) in a string of robberies over the past two years.
Italian authorities actually called their efforts to catch the thieves “Operation Wine and Cheese.” Police have already arrested ten people.
The thieves were arrested in the city of Modena in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, which is famous for its production of the pungent cheese. A single wheel of Parmesan cheese can sell for $500 or more.
Heists of luxury comestibles are not uncommon in Italy. Italy’s Parmesan consortium?—?a group I am determined to join, now that I know it exists—reports that $7 million in cheese has been stolen in the past two years alone. That’s right: SEVEN MILLION.
How is such a thing possible, you ask? Well, Parmesan must be aged for a year. Ripening cheeses are often stored in rural places, making cheese warehouses easy targets for criminals.
“It is unfortunate and a detriment to one of the most famous Italian cheeses in the world,” Italian agricultural organization Coldiretti says.
One suspect remains at large. There is no news of whether law enforcement is offering a reward for their capture. If there was a lifetime’s supply of cheese in the deal, though, I could be convinced to join the recovery effort.