Some thieves in the Netherlands pulled off a heist that could see them pocketing $23,000. Their target: cheese.
Gerda van Dorp, a cheese farmer from the town of Fijnaart woke on March 29, 2022 to discover her cheese storage almost emptied out.
What required months of her labor vanished overnight after thieves ran off with 161 wheels of cheese. They appeared to have been monitoring her farm as they timed their theft during a night when the farm gate was left open for an overnight milk delivery.
The thieves also took van Dorp’s trailer and two wheelbarrows, likely as a means of transport. A wheel of cheese after all weighs 10 kilograms, meaning the thieves had to move around 1,600 kilograms of cheese.
The police are still investigating the incident, but they already recovered the stolen trailer and wheelbarrows.
For now, a local group of dairy cheese farmers has encouraged its members to remain vigilant. But more than being a terrible blow to their business, farmers feel emotional about cheese theft. Cheese-making is not only a business, but also a personal craft. Farmers in the region make cheese in their own homes by using milk from their own farm animals and processing them with traditions passed through the family.
The Netherlands is a major producer of dairy, exporting $8.1 billion of cheese in 2020. It is not difficult to see why thieves set their eyes on cheese. Dutch newspaper NRC reported that close to 8,500 kilograms of cheese had been stolen in 2015. Even a 2021 study conducted by the Centre for Retail Research from the UK found that cheese is the most stolen food item in the world.
Selling the cheese would be difficult to accomplish however. Every wheel of cheese is encoded with a serial number indicating where it was made. This easily allows stolen cheese to be traced if sold locally.