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Maple Syrup Thieves Arrested for Stealing $18 Million Worth of Syrup

Maple Syrup Thieves Arrested for Stealing $18 Million Worth of Syrup

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Remember that crazy maple syrup heist? Well, it was an inside job, apparently

Authorities have arrested three men who they believe are connected to the $18 million theft of maple syrup southwest of Quebec City, and are continuing the search for five more suspected of being involved.

After a good year in the spring of 2011, 16,000 drums of maple syrup were pasteurized and held as a surplus; each drum holds 54 gallons.

According to The New York Times, the men are suspected of renting another portion of the warehouse, allowing them to drive trucks into the building. When the coast was clear, the men would gradually empty syrup barrels, replacing some barrels with water.

Lieutenant Guy Lapointe of the investigating police force told The New York Times that over time, the thieves gathered 6 million pounds of syrup. "They were basically inside guys," Lapointe said. "The leader wasn’t with the federation, but he had access to the warehouse that would not attract any suspicion."

According to The Times, the police have tracked down some two-thirds of the stolen commodity, although they will have trouble proving that the syrup is stolen. "Maple syrup doesn’t have a bar code," Lapointe said.

Behold the Tale of the Man Who Stole $18.7 Million Dollars Worth of Maple Syrup From Quebec

The epic tale of the great Canadian maple syrup heist – which began to unfold last year – finally reached its conclusion today.

The story begins back in 2011, when the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers rented a warehouse on property owned by Avik Caron’s wife. The Federation planned to store some of their haul for the year in the warehouse. Caron had other plans, though: He saw that delicious syrup as liquid gold. So he decided to steal it. Caron looked for a black market buyer to whom he could sell the syrup for a cash profit. Using a trailer tractor, he moved barrels of syrup from the warehouse to a shack where they were emptied and then re-filled with water.

His plan worked for about a year, and before he was found out, Caron managed to empty 9,571 barrels – that’s 3,000 tonnes of maple syrup, worth CAD$18.7 million dollars, making it the most expensive crime ever investigated by the Quebec police force. Caron’s team made CAD$200,000 dollars for every syrup transaction they conducted.

Caron plead guilty to the theft back in January, and was finally sentenced to five years in prison and a CAD$1.2 million dollar fine today. According to Canada’s National Post, he exploded in anger upon hearing the sentence, arguing that he was tricked into pleading guilty by his lawyer.

Ten thousand syrup producers were left high and dry after the maple syrup Caron stole disappeared. The thieves Caron worked with also moved their product in unregulated containers, showing a callous disregard for the public that would eventually pour the potentially tainted syrup on their pancakes.

Caron’s accomplices, Richard Vallières – who had been buying from the maple syrup black market (a very real trade in Canada) for 10 years – his father Raymond, and New Brunswick syrup buyer Étienne St-Pierre, are still awaiting sentencing, but Caron was the ringleader of the operation.

After he was arrested, finding himself in a sticky situation (sorry), Caron tried to implicate the Montreal Mafia, claiming that they provided his supposedly small operation with additional drivers and equipment, but there’s no evidence that any criminal organization ever helped Caron steal the syrup.

Having sat in prison during while awaiting his sentence, Caron has three more years in the slammer to consider what he did to Canada’s maple syrup industry – which produces 80% of the world’s supply and is worth CAD$360 million dollars. The rest of us can just be thankful Caron’s scheme ended before he was able to sap any more from Canada’s trees, forcing us to cancel breakfast forever.

Thieves sentenced in maple syrup warehouse heist

MONTREAL, Quebec — Three men convicted in connection with the theft of $18 million worth of maple syrup in Quebec were sentenced on Friday to between two and eight years.

Superior Court Justice Raymond Pronovost sentenced Richard Vallieres to eight years in prison, confiscated $606,500 from him and fined him another $9.4 million.

Vallieres, who was convicted of theft, fraud and receiving stolen goods, will have to pay back the money over a 10-year period or risk having his sentence increased by six years.

The other two men, Raymond Vallieres and Etienne St-Pierre, were each sentenced to jail terms of two years minus one day, to be served in the community, as well as three years probation.

Raymond Vallieres will be required to pay $9,840 within one year, or go to jail for six months, while St-Pierre must pay $1.3 million over 15 years or be imprisoned for five years.

A fourth man charged in the case, Jean Lord, was acquitted.

The sentencing proceedings took place in a courtroom in Trois-Rivieres, Que., 140 kilometres northeast of Montreal.

Jurors found the three men guilty last November in connection with the theft of 2,700 tons of syrup worth $18 million from a warehouse in Quebec between August 2011 and July 2012.

The case made international headlines after the sweet stuff was reported missing following a routine inventory check at a warehouse in Saint-Louis-de-Blandford, Que.

An investigation was launched after the barrels of syrup were found to have been drained and replaced with water.

Bombshell testimony

Vallières testified he realized he was buying stolen syrup when a shipment arrived in special federation barrels that are an unmistakable whitish-blue colour.

He broke down in tears, explaining that he tried to refuse the shipment, but the man who sold it to him threatened to kill him, his girlfriend and young daughter, telling him, "I know where you live."

Vallières said the man pulled a handgun from his coat.

The alleged seller cannot be identified, as a publication ban protects his identity until his jury trial begins next January.

Vallières said the man also threatened him when he tried to refuse to fill the federation barrels with water.

He said he continued to buy syrup from the man for months, not talking about the death threats to anyone other than his father.

He began taking sleeping pills and drinking heavily, he said, because he was so scared.

After their arrests, Vallières said the alleged seller muttered, "If anyone speaks, they'll get a bullet to the head."

Canada’s heist of the century involved $18.7 million worth of maple syrup

What it’s about: The most Canadian crime-of-the-century possible. Across several months in 2011 to 2012, a shadowy network of criminals pulled off an unthinkable heist, stealing $18.7 million worth of maple syrup from a storage facility in Quebec.

Biggest controversy: That Rick Moranis came out of retirement to do a stupid cellphone commercial and not a movie where he puts an Oceans Eleven-style gang of very polite master criminals to pilfer Canada’s greatest liquid assets.

Strangest fact: The syrup thieves and Walter White used the same methods nearly simultaneously. In 2012 Breaking Bad episode “Dead Freight,” Walt and Jesse siphon methylamine from a train’s tanker car, replacing the chemical with water so the weight will be unchanged. The syrup thieves did exactly the same thing with 600-pound barrels of syrup, except they started in 2011, well ahead of Walt and Jesse’s scheme, but the Breaking Bad writers wrote the episode well before the syrup heist was exposed. (Eventually, the syrup thieves got lazy and simply emptied the barrels as it turned out that the syrup was only inspected once a year, so their crime went unnoticed until the end of the year.)

Thing we were happiest to learn: Fear not, pancake lovers, Canada has a strategic syrup reserve. Back in 1966, several of Quebec’s leading syrup producers decided to coordinate their marketing efforts, forming the Federation Of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers (FPAQ, which abbreviates the French translation). FPAQ controls 94% of Canada’s maple syrup (and therefore 77% of the world’s supply), and has been likened to a drug cartel. They maintain a permanent supply of liquid gold, the International Strategic Reserve, stored in warehouses across several Quebecois small towns. It was from one such warehouse that our thieves drained 9,571 barrels of syrup.

Thing we were unhappiest to learn: The article doesn’t give nearly enough detail on this black market syrup operation. Once the syrup had been drained, it was transported by truck to, “a remote sugar shack,” and then sold in small batches to “legitimate syrup distributors,” in Vermont and New Brunswick who were unaware of the syrup’s ill-gotten origins. But it’s unclear what a remote sugar shack looks like, or how the thieves were caught. Over three days in December 2012, seventeen men were arrested, including ringleader Richard Vallières and his father Raymond. But Wikipedia gives no clue as to how they were identified or caught, and cryptically says Raymond Vallières was “convicted of possession,” although we can’t imagine possession of maple syrup in any amount is a crime. Richard Vallières was eventually sentenced to eight years in prison in 2017. Six years would be added to his sentence if he failed to pay a fine of $9.4 million, but it’s not clear which of those happened.

Best link to elsewhere on Wikipedia: Maple syrup has a surprisingly mysterious history. “The chemistry responsible” for its unique flavor “is not fully understood,” and neither are its origins. North Americans were tapping maple trees and boiling sap to make syrup and sugar long before the arrival of Europeans, but neither oral tradition nor archaeological evidence provides any clue as how how the practice originated, or who decided tree sap might taste good. But the Algonquians are credited with a method of tapping trees still used today, making a v-shaped incision in the trunk, and using a funnel to collect the sap.

The maple syrup Wikipedia page also details the economics and classification of syrup, going into great detail about the grading system (based around color). Maple sugar and cane sugar also have a surprisingly fraught rivalry before the Civil War, maple sugar was the choice of abolitionists, as cane sugar was produced by slave labor after the war, cane sugar came to dominate the market and maple producers shifted their focus to syrup. (Wikipedia also notes that anything labeled “pancake syrup” is an appalling concoction of high fructose corn syrup and artificial maple flavoring.)

Further Down the Wormhole: Another competitor to maple syrup (also, unfortunately, largely produced by slave labor pre-Emancipation) is molasses. A syrup made from sugarcane or sugar beets, molasses is primarily used as a sweetener or baking ingredient in modern times, but before the 20th century, it was used as an ingredient in making rum and beer. Blackstrap molasses, made by boiling down molasses three times instead of just once, is a more bitter concoction used in ethanol, cattle feed, and fertilizer. (The 1951 song “Black Strap Molasses,” sung by Groucho Marx, Jane Wyman, Danny Kaye, and Jimmy Durante, spoofed the syrup’s exaggerated health benefits, claiming it, “makes you live so long you wish you were dead.”) Shockingly, molasses actually did turn deadly once, in an absurd tragedy we can’t believe we haven’t covered before now. We’ll recount the Great Boston Molasses Flood next week.

Thieves Make Off with $100,000 of Maple Syrup in Canada

Heist stories always make for classic capers, and plenty of versions exist, with thieves stealing everything from cash to gold to jewelry to fine art. But here’s a story that could have only happened in Canada. Last week in Quebec, robbers made off with 20,000 liters of maple syrup. That’s over $100,000 worth of the sticky stuff—leaving a lot of sad pancakes in its wake. According to Canada’s CBC News, the maple syrup theft happened in Dorval, a city not far from Montreal’s Trudeau airport. Someone broke into a Mexuscan Cargo facility and made off with an entire shipping container stocked with 20 palates of Kirkland brand one-liter bottles of maple syrup that were slated to be sent to Japan.

Mexuscan vice president Alfredo Monaco was apparently a bit miffed by the theft, since Kirkland is Costco’s private label brand. That means finding an opportunity to unload this syrup to another retailer would be highly unlikely. “You can&apost just sell this stuff at the flea market,” Monaco told The Canadian Press. Maybe these thieves are just looking to throw a small waffle breakfast for themselves and about one hundred thousand of their closest friends? Still, Monaco hopes all is not lost: “That&aposs why we&aposre offering a $10,000 reward if we can recoup the freight.”

As crazy as it sounds, this maple syrup heist is nothing compared to an even larger theft that happened in 2012. That year, multiple arrests were made after $18 million worth of syrup was stolen from the global strategic maple syrup reserve in near Quebec City. As far as stealing syrup is concerned, that was the tree sap equivalent of infiltrating Fort Knox. It was so outlandish that the story has even been in development by Hollywood for a major motion picture starring Jason Segel. So comparatively speaking, last week’s robbers weren’t just small potatoes they are a side of hash browns.

Still, Monaco believes the guys who broke into his warehouse knew what they were doing. “These thieves were pretty creative and managed to break off the lock,” Monaco was quoted as saying. “I don&apost know how they did it because the locks are pretty (break) proof.” Yeah, I don’t see Hollywood calling because some guys were able to get around a lock. Maybe they had a spare key? Did anyone recently lose the spare key?

Meanwhile, CTV News Montreal reports police have been able to recover the shipping container, however it had already been emptied of all its sugary contents. Sounds like a sticky situation.

Legal dispute over man's $10M fine for stealing maple syrup heading to Supreme Court of Canada

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to hear a case involving the fine imposed on one of the ringleaders of a massive maple syrup heist.

Richard Vallieres was found guilty of fraud, trafficking in stolen goods and theft after more than 9,500 barrels of maple syrup, valued at $18 million, were stolen from a Quebec warehouse in 2011 and 2012.

Legal dispute over man's $10M fine for stealing maple syrup heading to Supreme Court of Canada Back to video

Vallieres was initially ordered to pay $10 million in fines and compensation within 10 years because the stolen goods couldn’t be recovered.

The Quebec Court of Appeal later ruled that was excessive and lowered the fine to $1 million.

Quebec prosecutors appealed that decision to the Supreme Court, which today agreed to hear the case.

More than 20 people were arrested in connection with the theft, and searches were conducted in Quebec, New Brunswick, Ontario and the United States.

Three people, including Vallieres, were found guilty. Vallieres was sentenced to eight years in prison in 2017 but his sentence was to be extended if the fine wasn’t paid.

Legal dispute over man's $10M fine for stealing maple syrup heading to Supreme Court of Canada

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to hear a case involving the fine imposed on one of the ringleaders of a massive maple syrup heist.

Richard Vallieres was found guilty of fraud, trafficking in stolen goods and theft after more than 9,500 barrels of maple syrup, valued at $18 million, were stolen from a Quebec warehouse in 2011 and 2012.

Legal dispute over man's $10M fine for stealing maple syrup heading to Supreme Court of Canada Back to video

Vallieres was initially ordered to pay $10 million in fines and compensation within 10 years because the stolen goods couldn’t be recovered.

The Quebec Court of Appeal later ruled that was excessive and lowered the fine to $1 million.

Quebec prosecutors appealed that decision to the Supreme Court, which today agreed to hear the case.

More than 20 people were arrested in connection with the theft, and searches were conducted in Quebec, New Brunswick, Ontario and the United States.

Three people, including Vallieres, were found guilty. Vallieres was sentenced to eight years in prison in 2017 but his sentence was to be extended if the fine wasn’t paid.

$120,000 Worth of Stolen Chocolate Latest in Odd Food Heists

Hide your hamburgers and chocolate: No food delivery is safe.

Dec. 12, 2013 — -- intro: Hamburgers, chicken wings and cheese have one thing in common, and it's not a summer barbecue.

These are all categories of food that have been reported stolen in mass quantities from manufacturers and shipping yards.

In the past year, thieves made away with other bulk foodstuffs, with retail values of the goods typically ranging from $20,000 to $400,000.

From burger patties to Canadian maple syrup, we've gathered some of the strangest food theft stories here.

quicklist:title: $120,000 Worth of Chocolate media: 21193396text: The Volusia County, Fla., Sheriff's Office said it received a call on Dec. 8 about a stolen vehicle, according to a police report. While the Freightliner Cascadia is valued at about $90,000 and the trailer is worth $19,000, it's the precious cargo inside that may or may not have inspired robbers to go on a sweet spree.

The truck was full of $120,000 worth of Hershey Chocolate.

Hershey did not respond to a request for comment.

Local television station News 13, said the driver of the stolen truck and the 911 operator could at least have a brief laugh about it:

911 Operator: When was the last time you saw it?

Driver: Three o'clock yesterday [Saturday] was the last time I saw the truck. It's hooked to a trailer as well, fully loaded, with chocolate.

911 Operator: Fully loaded with chocolate, huh?

Driver: Yeah, someone with a sweet tooth.

911 Operator: Well, you know, maybe that's what they were going for. Who knows?

If you see a truck with the Sun State Carriers logo with $120,000 worth of chocolate inside, tell the driver the chocolate should stay cool.

quicklist:title: $400,000 Worth of Walnutsmedia: 20795727text: California's fourth-biggest agricultural export, walnuts were the target of food thieves in Escalon, a city about 88 miles east of San Francisco.

The thieves stole 140,000 pounds of walnuts worth $400,000 on Nov. 3 from grower GoldenRiver Orchards, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Walnuts are worth about $2 a pound to farmers, up from about $1.85 last year, the Times reported.

This may be the biggest heist of walnuts the state has seen so far. Last month, 12,000 pounds of walnuts worth $50,000 were stolen from a trailer north of Sacramento. But below you can read more about a $300,000 walnut scam in 2012.

quicklist:1title: $25,000 in Kentucky Bourbontext:Cops believe the theft of more than $25,000 worth of a rare Kentucky bourbon was an inside job.

Some 65 cases of 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle were stolen from the Buffalo Trace distillery in Frankfort, Ky., on Oct.15.

Just 6,000 cases of the hooch are distilled a year. A bottle retails for about $130, but can sell for four times that on the secondary market.

Buffalo Trace recently warned customers that production could not keep pace with demand, sending prices and interest in the brand soaring.

No suspects have been named in the theft. media: 20611784

quicklist: 2category: Weird Large Scale Food Heiststitle: $100,000 in Hamburger Pattiesurl: text: A "patty" thief stole a refrigerated trailer containing 3,000 cartons of hamburger patties from a New Jersey shipping yard, according to New Jersey police.

Authorities were called to the scene, when the shipping yard's owner alerted them to the missing burger patties worth $100,000, according to the police report.

Capt. James Sarnicki of the Linden Police Department told that the patties, which originated in Kansas City, Mo., were bound for the Netherlands.

"We notified all law enforcement agencies in New Jersey and the state police cargo theft unit," Sarnicki said. The FBI was also notified, but no arrests have been made.

Detectives are looking into the possibility that someone at the shipping yard tipped off the hamburglar. "Nothing has been recovered," Sarnicki said. "We suspected some organized criminal enterprise."

Surveillance footage showed a tractor truck hooked up to the trailer and leaving the shipping yard with the beefy load.

Sarnicki said, jokingly, "If there was a trailer of cheese stolen and burgers were stolen, we know there's a connection," referring to the March theft of 21 tons of cheese from a Wisconsin cheese company.

quicklist: 3category: Weird Large Scale Food Heiststitle: $75,000 Worth of Soupurl: text: One man in Florida had the soup of the day -- $75,000 worth of it.

Florida highway patrol stopped a truck packed with soup on the Florida turnpike April 6, and the driver was accused of stealing the truck – and the soup. The vehicle was being tracked by GPS.

Sgt. Mark Wysocky of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles told that the Lessors Inc. tractor trailer and the soup have a total value of $350,000.

quicklist: 4category: Weird Large Scale Food Heiststitle: 11,000 Pounds of Nutellaurl: Who could blame thieves for stealing 11,000 pounds of creamy Nutella goodness?

The chocolate-hazelnut spread was stolen April 8 from a truck parked at a former train station in Niederaula, Germany.

According to Osthessen news, about $20,000 worth of the spread and other goods were stolen. Police believe that the Nutella thieves transferred the truck's cargo to another truck.

Large-scale food thefts are not unheard of in this particular area in Germany: Five tons of coffee and a truckload of Red Bull energy drinks have also previously gone missing, according to Osthessen news.

quicklist: 5category: Weird Large Scale Food Heiststitle: 21 Who stole my cheese?url: A man faced the cheesiest of criminal charges in New Jersey.

The suspect was accused of stealing 42,000 pounds of Muenster cheese from a Wisconsin cheese company. He was arrested at a Bergen County rest area on the New Jersey Turnpike on March 25, the result of a joint investigation with the Saddle Brook New Jersey Police Department and the New Jersey State Police.

"He was charged with receiving stolen property and fencing," New Jersey State Police Sgt. Adam Grossman told The thief allegedly attempted to sell the load of 1,135 cases of cheese at the rest area.

Kevin Everhart, 50, owner of Pasture Pride Cheese in Wisconsin, where the cheese came from, said he did not realize the cheese had been stolen. "He came in with the proper paperwork," Everhart told "He came in as if he was picking up a shipment."

quicklist: 6category: Weird Large Scale Food Heiststitle: $65,000 in Chicken Wingsurl: Maybe they were planning a really big Super Bowl party?

Two man were arrested and charged with felony theft in connection with the $65,000 theft of chicken wings in January.

The suspects worked at Nordic Distribution Center outside Atlanta, where the wings were reported stolen. The pair was allegedly seen by management backing a rental truck up to the loading area at the center and loading 10 pallets of Tyson frozen chicken wings onto the truck.

quicklist: 7category: Weird Large Scale Food Heiststitle: 6 Million Pounds of Maple Syrupurl: Last year was one sticky situation for the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers.

As many as eight men were suspected of being involved in a maple syrup heist in which 6 million pounds of maple syrup were stolen in a little less than a year.

The sticky substance was taken by thieves from a warehouse in Saint-Louis-de-Blandford, Canada, between August 2011 and July 2012. Total mark value of the stolen syrup was about $18 million.

The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup stored the overproduction of its 2011 harvest within the rented facility. The organization was unaware of the theft until the warehouse workers called to report empty syrup barrels.

Nearly two thirds of the stolen liquid was located in New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario, Canada. It was also believed that several million cans of stolen maple syrup ended up on U.S. grocery shelves.

quicklist: 8category: Weird Large Scale Food Heiststitle: $300,000 Worth of Walnutsurl: Police investigated the theft of $300,000 Calif. walnuts in October 2012, when two trucks containing the nutty cargo never made it to their destinations, according to ABC affiliate KRCR.

According to KRCR, the two truckloads were allegedly picked up at separate times by a driver with a Russian accent driving a white semi tractor trailer.

This description did not match the description of the driver that was supposed to pick up one of the loads, KRCR reported.

Each truckload was reported by KRCR to contain around 42,000 pounds of unprocessed nuts.

Canadian Ringleader of $18.7 Million Maple Syrup Heist Sentenced to Prison

A Canadian man who led the 2012 heist of millions of dollars worth of maple syrup received an eight-year prison sentence and multi-million dollar fine on Friday.

Richard Vallières was fined $9.4 million, and will have to serve six additional years in prison if he does not pay it, for the theft of $18.7 million worth of maple syrup, the CBC reports. The 2012 theft involved taking 3,000 tons of maple syrup from a warehouse that belonged to the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, which regulates the syrup trade.

Officials realized the maple syrup was missing in July 2012 when they found dozens of barrels filled with water instead of syrup. Twenty-six people were arrested in an investigation into the missing syrup.

Vallières was found guilty of theft, fraud and trafficking stolen goods. His father, Raymond, and syrup reseller Etienne St-Pierre, have also been found guilty for taking part in the heist. The three men will appeal their convictions, according to the CBC.

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