Stolen parmesan is found, many questions remain
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — The $90,000 worth of parmesan cheese that went missing from WOW Logistics in Marshfield on Jan. 14 has been found in Grand Chute, according to the Marshfield Police Department.
Marshfield Police Department Administrative Lieutenant Darren Larson said a tip from a person in the cheese industry led to the location of the cheese on Thursday morning.
“We … requested Grand Chute authorities to go over to this facility. They did. They met with no resistance, they met with cooperation, and they confirmed that the product was sitting there on the floor and had been for several days, apparently,” Larson said.
The parmesan, which was produced in Le Sueur, Minn., was sent to WOW Logistics, where it was being aged, Larson said. It was supposed to be shipped to Elgin, Ill., but never made it there after being taken from Marshfield. The complainant is a logistics company called RMX out of Fitchburg, which was shipping the product from Marshfield to Elgin.
Larson said that it was possible that the cheese had been “sold and resold on a number of different levels in the cheese market since its theft.” He added that the cheese may have passed through reputable businesses, possibly without those businesses knowing that the cheese was stolen.
Another theory, Larson said, is that some brokers may have “misrepresented” the quality of the cheese.
“The cheese market is much like the stock market,” Larson said. “It’s very complicated, and there are many levels to it, and we are still kind of learning that process, and so we’re relying on some of the experts and trying to understand some of the complexities of the cheese market.”
By better understanding the cheese market, Larson said police could better understand how the product was moved and sold potentially numerous times.
“It’s not only well-aged cheese, but it’s well-travelled cheese,” Larson said. He later added, “It appears to have possibly ended up in a number of different facilities only to return to central Wisconsin, then ultimately being shipped to over by Grand Chute.”
Larson said the cheese is now being held as evidence in Grand Chute. Police are working to determine who the monetary victim of the theft truly is, though at this point they are treating RMX as the victim. Now that the product is found, police will focus on retracing the movement of the cheese after it left Marshfield to establish who originally stole the product.
“It’s become quite apparent to me through conversations that this is not an opportunist. This is an organized, well-thought out, very systematic plan that’s in place,” Larson said. “And so it would certainly suggest not only intimate knowledge with the cheese marketing business but the transport business as well, so this is quite an organized series of events.”
Larson said whoever stole the cheese likely would have needed to produce some kind of back story as to why the seal on the cheese container was breached in order to introduce it to the legitimate cheese market. The focus for police is now to identify where and when the back story may have been told and by whom.