In the Criminal Justice System, cornering a commodity market is considered a high-stakes crime, but in Canada it’s a pancake crime. The story you are about to hear is true.
This week, police in Quebec arrested three men in connection with a brazen heist of the province's most prized product: high-grade maple syrup.
That's right! The simple bottle of maple syrup that you buy at the grocery store isn't just a sugar high; it's part of a highly lucrative, yet little noticed commodities market that Canadians dominate.
Like OPEC’s domination of world oil markets, Quebec monopolizes the maple syrup market, producing as much as 78% of the high-value commodity.
Since 1999, the province has used a marketing system that sets strict quotas for producers and requires them to sell through a federation.
In the spring of 2011, a critical change set the thieves plan in motion. A good harvest meant maple syrup production sugar spiked. There was so much production that the federation was forced to add a warehouse, its third to accommodate overflow.
This allowed savvy criminals to score the perfect heist.
Their goal: to steal as much syrup as their sticky hands could handle from the Strategic Maple Reserve (that's really what it's called).
First, they rented a portion of the new warehouse the federation was in. This allowed them to drive large trucks into the building. They emptied the barrels of maple syrup and refilled some with water.
Then, they resold the syrup on the open market, setting themselves up as legitimate maple syrup dealers, and because grocery stores don't use a bar code on syrup bottles they were able to sell them for the full price.
Over time, the men helped themselves to six million pounds of syrup. When police stumbled on a few empty barrels, the crime was unmasked.
Brought to justice by Quebec police who followed their maple-y trail, the bandits are officially behind bars.
One word for the perpetrators: saps!
The Willis Report with Gerri Willis investigates the top business stories, outs corporate scams and polices D.C. policy.