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Bizarre and Shocking Real-Life Heists!

Bizarre and Shocking Real-Life Heists!

Here at CrimeReads, we love a heist, genre of crime that’s definitely a lot cooler and easier to pull off in movies. But there are heists in real life. They’re way less glamorous, but hey, so is everything. For this list, we thought we’d spotlight some of the more random and strange robberies that have been executed in recent memory.


Kinder Surprise Eggs and Nutella

I’ve witnessed firsthand the popularity of both Kinder Surprise Eggs and Nutella in Germany, but even I was shocked to learn that, in August 2017, in Neustadt Germany, a group of thieves made off with about 20 tons of Nutella and Kinder eggs. The goods were held in a refrigerated truck, and were worth, together, upwards of $80,000. German law enforcement put out the following announcement: “Anyone offered large quantities [of chocolate] via unconventional channels should report it to the police immediately.”

Also, Kinder Surprise Eggs are illegal in the United States, apparently? They contain tiny toys in their shell, and since 1938, the U.S. has prohibited the sale of food items with inedible components. (I am guessing because of this ban, Kinder sells a product called the “Kinder Joy Egg” in America, which complies with US law.)


Parmesan Cheese

Apparently, in Italy, more than $3 million of Parmesan cheese is stolen every year. I find this both outrageous and very believable. Britain’s Center for Retail Research has noted that cheese, in general, is the most stolen food in the world. But Parmigiano-Reggiano is one of the most coveted. According to the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano (the Consortium of Parmesan Cheese), the organization which oversees authentic Parmesan production and culture, Parmesan is a highly particular and historic cheese made authentically in only five Italian provinces (“Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna to the left of the river Reno and Mantua to the right of the river Po”) and has received Protected Designations of Origin (or PDO) status from Italy, a stamp to certify authenticity, since there are many counterfeit Italian cheeses on the market. Evidently.

Cut to Emilia-Romagna, Modena, in 2015, when a group of eleven gang members were arrested for a series of armed robberies spanning eleven years in which they stole total of 2,039 wheels of parmesan, totaling €785,000 at the time of the theft (equivalent to $875,000). Says one Italian police officer, “‘Cheese is a bit like gold here, the price is so high.’” Normally I don’t fantasize about committing robberies, but I’ve also never known about cheese heists, before. Interesting.


Desert Hairy Scorpion, Domino Cockroach, Six-Eyed Sand Spider, etc.

Yes, this next heist story is not about food!! Not!!! Food!!!! In August of 2018, the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion was robbed, with thieves taking about 7,000 live animals (making up about 80 to 90 percent of the collection). There were some lizards in the haul, but it was largely composed of insects. Police suspected an inside job and were able to locate a few of the animals. According to The New York Times, “Security cameras around the pavilion recorded several people creeping out of the museum… with plastic containers holding giant African mantises, bumblebee millipedes, warty glowspot roaches, tarantulas, dwarf and tiger hissers, and leopard geckos.”

Removing animals from controlled environments and exhibits is extremely dangerous for humans and the animals themselves, who have special food and climate requirements. The animals were likely headed for the exotic animal black market, which again, is a very bad thing. The thieves also stole the logs from the exhibits, making it more difficult for the scientists and curators to track which species had in fact been stolen. The total estimated value of the stolen animals is $40,000. And, not to be glib here (because again, this theft risks animal cruelty), but I’d need to be earning a LOT more than $40,000k to even go near one “warty glowspot roach” or “Mexican fireleg tarantula.”


Black Truffle

Well, we’re back to talking about food now. Cool, cool, cool. I’m definitely not still thinking about bugs. Definitely not. This entrant in our list is “truffle,” a fancy food so maybe that will… no, wait, truffles are found in the dirt and so are bugs. Please give me a moment to clear my mind.

Well, I’m back. Maybe you assumed “truffle” would make this list. We’ve covered the extremely intense world of the truffle economy before, but it never ceases to amaze me how far people will go into the criminal depths for those little bulbs. In Provence, France, in 2005, a group of thieves raided a warehouse holding black truffle bulbs–they broke in at night and accessed the facility using the roof. It’s estimated that they made off with $100,000 worth of truffles. The thieves were never caught.


Spanish Garlic

In June 2012, Austrian police stopped three “overloaded and sagging vans” at the border between Austria and Hungary, before they were about to leave the country. The Austria Press Association notes that one officer said he knew “what the vans were carrying even before their doors were opened.” He remarked, “‘All three vehicles really stunk like garlic.’” And he was right. It was garlic… 9.5 tons of garlic, valuing approximately €30,000 ($37,500). The garlic came from Spain, originally, and the five men operating the vans, who were all Romanian, were held on suspicion of receiving stolen goods. Is it possible, though, that since they were bound for Hungary and Romania, that they were just really determined to protect themselves against vampires? It’s like diethyltoluamide for the undead!


Bordeaux Grapes

It’s wine o’clock! In September of 2017, a group of thieves stolen seven metric tons of Bordeaux grapes! Apparently, that summer, the grape harvest had been terrible, with weather conditions killing the majority of the crops in the region. It was predicted that the few grapes that did survive would yield an especially delicious vintage, and thieves broke into a vineyard at vineyard in Génissac, near St-Émilion, and picked all the grapes from their vines (6.5 tons). They also broke into a vineyard near Montagne, and dug up 500 grapevines and took them along, too. It is suspected that these thieves were professionals (vintners, not thieves, but they were good at that too), because who else honestly would know how to churn out impeccable wine from all of that?


Beanie Babies

Would a list like this be complete without something truly deranged? Bring out the Beanie Babies! In 1997, the toy manufacturer Ty reported that 60,000 Beanie Babies had been stolen from their warehouse in Westmont, Illinois. The total amount of the haul? $300,000. Police Officers from the Carol Stream Police Department found 1,000 of the stolen (what do you call them? Stuffed animals? The original Associated Press copy calls them “dolls,” which feels absurd) toys in a storage unit belonging to a senior citizen. He explained that he had purchased a lot of 1200 at a flea market, and had been excited to resell them. He was arrested, but subsequently acquitted.