In 2012, Canadian Thieves Stole Millions Of Dollars Worth Of Product From?
Answer: The Global Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve
People like to joke about how printer ink costs more than oil, but while you’re making comparisons between stuff stored and traded by the barrel and oil, don’t overlook maple syrup. Maple syrup is incredibly valuable and a barrel of the stuff is worth around thirteen times the price of crude oil.
Given that a barrel of grade A maple syrup is worth around $1,800, you can see why some enterprising Canadians would set about stealing barrels of the stuff to sell on the black market. If you’re at all familiar with maple syrup production, however, you might wonder how exactly the thieves were able to scrounge up a barrel, let alone multiple barrels to steal in the first place since production of maple syrup is very labor intensive and it is produced in small batches. Enter, The Global Strategic Maple Reserve. No, we’re not making that up. Yes, it is a real thing overseen by the Federation of Québec Maple Syrup Producers and intended to stabilize the global production and distribution of maple syrup. Yes, it has two warehouses filled with millions of gallons of maple syrup the same way Fort Knox is filled with millions of dollars in gold bars. And, yes, some sticky fingered bandits made off with a whole lot of the reserve before somebody noticed.
That somebody was Michel Gauvreau, an accountant hired by the Federation to audit their reserves in the single warehouse they had at that time. What he found, shortly into the start of his audit, were barrels that were far too light to be filled with maple syrup. The barrels were, instead, filled with water and the maple syrup that was supposed to be inside was nowhere to be found. The damage wasn’t just a barrel or two, either, but sixty percent of the entire strategic reserve totaling around six million pounds of syrup.
While some of the syrup was eventually located, significant quantities of it had already been moved through black market channels in Canada and sold outside of the country. By the time the news broke, there was a good chance that some of the people reading about it in the paper or watching a segment about the heist on the morning news were enjoying maple syrup on their pancakes that had come from the heist itself.
Image courtesy of the Fédération des producteurs acéricoles du Québec.