When you think about the greatest heists in history, stories of missing Manet paintings, bank-vault tunnels, and epic train hijackings probably come to mind first. But did you know that large-scale robberies are actually less likely to happen with precious items like rubies, and more prone to happen with everyday foods like ruby-red grapefruits? According to the latest data from FreightWatch International, food and drink heists make up 27% of all cargo theft—that accounts for more than stolen electronics, pharmaceuticals, and auto parts combined.

That number is growing rapidly. It’s up 34% from 2014, and food heists seem to become more ridiculous with each passing year. Sure, there’s the occasional raid for caviar and Cabernet, but there’s also some serious scheming on surprising items like frozen Tyson wings, or 400 pounds of marinated kebab meat. From a six-million pound maple syrup raid, to a botched Campbell’s Soup scheme, here’s a look at the most ballsy—and laughable—food robberies to date, some of which remain unsolved. 



Recovered: No
Estimated value: More than $25,000

Pappy Van Winkle, The Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery’s bourbon, has both a notorious cult following and limited production, making it one of the world’s most sought-after spirits. A single bottle can fetch $5,000 on eBay, and the wait list can be upwards of ten years. There’s even an iPhone app called the Pappy Tracker. Only 7,000 cases are produced annually, but it became even harder to track down after October 2013, when 65 cases of Pappy Family Reserve 20 Year were stolen from the distillery—a theft that took place over several months and was suspected to have been committed internally. A year later, distillery president Julian P. Van Winkle III admitted he doesn’t go anywhere without someone asking, “By the way, did you ever find that whiskey?” (Photo: Edsel Little/Flickr)

The French Laundry’s Christmas Surprise


Recovered: Partially
Estimated value: $300,000 minimum retail value

Wine thieves were determined to cancel Thomas Keller’s Christmas last year. On the evening of December 25, 2014, 76 bottles of wine were stolen out of the cellar at his Michelin-starred restaurant, The French Laundry, which had just closed the day before for a six-month kitchen remodel. Keller disclosed the list of missing bottles, most of which were from the Burgundy estate Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. The wines turned up a month later, 2,329 miles away, in Greensboro, NC, and investigators were able to return 72 of the 76 stolen bottles to the restaurant. Although no arrests have been made in connection with the theft, the case remains under investigation. Was it an inside job? Thomas Keller told the press he wasn’t ruling that out: “Someone close to the restaurant? Yes. Somebody who knew where the wine cellar was? Certainly.” (Photo: Jill Clardy/Flickr)

The Great Maple Syrup Heist


Recovered: Partially
Estimated value: $18 million

Quebec, which produces more than 70% of the world’s maple syrup, has grappled with large-scale theft for years. Still, the maple syrup theft on July 30, 2012 shocked the world when auditors discovered six million pounds of maple syrup had gone missing during a routine inspection. Thieves, it had turned out, rented a space in the same warehouse where the syrup was, and gradually siphoned off the equivalent of 10,000 barrels of syrup while guards weren’t present, replacing some with water to hide their traces. About 70% of the stolen syrup was recovered from across Canada, although some of it is believed to have wound up in the U.S. (Photo: Chiot’s Run/Flickr)

Who Moved My Cheese?


Recovered: Yes
Estimated value: $200,000

In March 2013, a man driving a refrigerated truck was arrested in New Jersey for stealing 42,000 pounds of Muenster cheese. He showed up with falsified paperwork in order to obtain the shipment, then attempted to see the cheese at a New Jersey turnpike rest stop. The cheese company, K&K Cheese in Cashton, WI, wasn’t able to confirm the cheese hadn’t been tampered with, and therefore could not take it back. Authorities said it would be tested and possibly donated to charity if it passed health inspections. (Photo: Bradley Gordon/Flickr)

The Worst New Year’s Ever


Recovered: Unknown
Estimated value: $470,000

In January 2005, while a Moscow businessman was ringing in the new year, criminals were busy stealing 845 cans—22 tons—of red caviar out of the back of his truck. Considering the value of the stolen haul (close to half a million U.S. dollars), we’d say this had to be his worst New Year’s ever. (Photo: Leonid Mamchenkov/Flickr)

That Time Chicken Wings Took Flight


Recovered: No
Estimated value: $65,000

Days before Super Bowl XLVII, two Atlanta men working at a frozen food distribution center clipped 26,000 pounds (10 pallets’ worth) of Tyson frozen chicken wings—during a nationwide chicken shortage, no less. The two were seen by management making off with the poultry and were arrested a week later—although they kept mum on the location of the chicken wings. No word on whether they threw the world’s sickest Super Bowl party ever. #TurnDownForWhat (Photo: Isaac Wedin/Flickr)

The Swindlers with a Sweet Tooth


Recovered: Partially
Estimated value: $20,000

In April of 2013, roughly 11,000 pounds—that’s two elephants’ worth!—of Nutella was stolen out of a truck parked at a former train station in Niederaula, Germany. Maybe the criminals were hoping to create the world’s biggest crepe? The loot was partially recovered the following month, along with a stash of 34,000 cans of Red Bull and five tons of coffee. (Photo: Sheep”R”Us/Flickr)

Campbell’s Soup Fiasco


Recovered: Yes
Estimated value: $75,000

That same month in 2013, an Orlando man stole $75,000 worth of Campbell’s soup from a Central Florida truck stop. A highway patrol officer tracked the vehicle’s GPS signal; when he pulled the rig aside, a passenger dodged arrest by jumping a nearby chain-link fence. The driver was later charged on two counts of grand theft (one for the tractor trailer, another for the cargo). “This is the first time the court’s ever seen $75,000 worth of soup stolen,” the judge on the case remarked. (Photo: Seba Sofariu/Flickr)

The Walnut Job


Recovered: Yes
Estimated value: $400,000

The walnut industry in California was still smarting over a $300,000 walnut theft in 2012 when 140,000 pounds of walnuts went missing at GoldRiver Orchards near Modesto. GoldRiver’s stolen nuts were found a week later and returned to the company; two men were arrested and charged for the theft. Wondering where the nuts were headed to? Investigators say it’s likely they would’ve ended up for resale at farmers’ markets or on the black market. (Remember, factory farms aren’t the only culprits in our food system.) (Photo: Pauline Mak/Flickr)

The High Life Heist


Recovered: Partially
Estimated value: About $32,000

An Orlando driver was reduced to tears in October 2014 when someone made off with his brand-new rig, which was carrying 44,000 pounds of Miller High Life. The driver estimated that the truck was carrying about 9,700 four-packs of the beer (which currently go for about $3.29 retail). It’s a good thing the truck and its contents were located shortly thereafter in Miami, otherwise someone would’ve made off with the country’s largest kegger. (Photo: Matt/Flickr)