In the green dairy lands of Wisconsin, cheese is serious business. Fans of the pro football team the Green Bay Packers proudly don cheese-shaped hats on game days, and the region is famous for its fine cheeses.
But this January, a series of cheese-related heists has local police investigating a possible conspiracy.
In Germantown, Wisconsin, a semi-trailer full of $70,000 of the finest locally made Wisconsin cheese disappeared from a warehouse, in what police described as a “well-orchestrated” cheese theft. Germantown police found the abandoned trailer in Milwaukee, but the cheese was gone.
“Oh yeah, we’re still trying to find it, absolutely, we’re going to make every effort we can to try to recover that product,” Lt. Todd Grenier, Germantown Police Department, told CBS58.
CBS58 also reports that even if the Germantown cheese is recovered, it’s still gone for good. The cheese was sealed in a truck by a food inspector, and according to federal law, the moment the thieves broke the seal, the cheese became useless.
Cheese regulation might seem like an odd subject for such tight federal regulation, but due to the high risk of contaminants in raw dairy products, cheese and milk makers are required to abide by strict regulations.
In addition to pasteurization, many dairy products also undergo high pressure homogenization. A common technique in the pharmaceutical and food industries, industrial liquid homogenizers use high pressure to subject germs and other harmful organisms to shear, cavitation, and impact forces, sanitizing the dairy products for safe consumption.
Now that the seal on the cheese truck has been broken, it’s too late to save the $70,000 batch. And unfortunately, the Germantown job was just the latest in a string of cheese heists to strike the region.
“Approximately 90,000 dollars worth of parmesan cheese was missing from a logistics or storage facility here,” said Lt. Darren Larson from the nearby Marshfield Police Department. “We’re trying to reap some information to the location of this cheese.”
In all likelihood, the thieves plan to resell the hot cheese on the dairy black markets of the east coast, police say. Sadly, this isn’t the first time local police have had to chase down cheese thieves. In 2013, a criminal stole $200,000 in prized Wisconsin muenster cheese, although police eventually brought that suspect to justice.