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Thieves Hit Warehouse Holding $30 Million Of Canadian Maple Syrup

Every nation stockpiles vital resources — think of the U.S. Petroleum Reserve, for instance. In Canada, they have warehouses holding millions of pounds of maple syrup. And recently, one of them was the site of what may be "the sweetest heist of all time," as The Vancouver Sun reports.

The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, which announced the theft Thursday, says that a routine check of its reserves found a warehouse in St-Louis-de-Blandford, northeast of Montreal, had been hit by thieves.

"In total, the burglarized warehouse held over 10 million pounds of maple syrup amounting to over 30 million dollars in value," according to the syrup federation.

That figure is in Canadian dollars. At current exchange rates, it represents $30.4 million. And the criminals seem to have been very crafty, siphoning the syrup into other containers so they could leave behind what looked like undisturbed barrels of amber sweetness.

As police investigate, the federation and an audit firm are giving the warehouse a careful examination to learn how much syrup was stolen.

The Quebec syrup producers' group says it has about 10,000 members and "is responsible for the administration of the bulk maple syrup sales agency as well as the global strategic maple syrup reserve."

That may sound like hyperbole — to anyone who doesn't enjoy syrup. But the theft comes at a vulnerable time for maple syrup supplies. The Canadian federation notes that U.S. syrup producers suffered "a very low, indeed catastrophic, harvest during the 2012 season."

Quebec provides two-thirds of America's syrup and between 70 and 80 percent of the world's supply, according to the federation's Caroline Cyr. The group says that Quebec province's maple trees yielded 96.1 million pounds of syrup this year.

Calling the thieves "sticky-fingered," The Montreal Gazette notes that "all maple syrup inventories are fully insured."

The syrup federation's president, Serge Beaulieu, insists that the reserves are adequately secured and monitored. And, he notes, "The sales agency's maple syrup inventory is spread across several storage locations that were not subject to theft."

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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