Series of meat thefts hit Nebraska
Five Nebraska law enforcement agencies are hot on the trail of meat thieves following multiple thefts of tractors and reefer trailers loaded with box beef bound for retail.
Omaha police are searching for a suspect who stole an estimated $50,000 worth of beef trimmings from JBS Beef Plant. According to law enforcement, the incident allegedly occurred on Jan. 17 when 40,000 pounds of beef trimmings were taken using fraudulent documents. The theft was reported on May 18.
More recently, three semi-trailers full of meat products were stolen last weekend in Grand Island. Grand Island Police Captain Jim Duering said this type of theft isn’t new or uncommon to the Midwest. The value of the meat stolen in the three rigs is valued upwards of $500,000.
Duering said a reefer rig containing over $232,000 of meat was stolen recently in Grand Island, home of a JBS plant. This is in addition to a case in Omaha and another in nearby Schuyler, home of a Cargill plant, over the course of several weeks. Captain Duering said Grand Island is home to a frozen foods plant and their trailers are often located in the same lots, though they haven’t reported losses, confirming for him that the thefts are specifically targeting the meat industry.
“They’re removing the GPS trackers from the trailers and (have) the acumen to know how to operate the truck and where to find the trailers, it’s somebody who has been involved in the industry,” he said. “Some of the earlier instances were closer to the Chicago area and if you follow that I-80 corridor, Schuyler is a little off the interstate, but not so far that I would put it past journeymen criminals that are operating up and down the corridor. I do have a theory these are not local criminals.”
Duering said it’s likely the thieves are familiar either with the bills of lading or the seals the meat plants use, though this is a rather sophisticated operation and one, he said, that isn’t home grown. He said he anticipates the meat has been repackaged to avoid tracking.
The Nebraska State Patrol found the two tractors and two of the trailers, empty, outside the Grand Island city limits. One of the tractors was found Sunday in Lancaster County. The third trailer, which reportedly contains $232,666 worth of beef from JBS Swift, was still missing as of Monday morning.
Captain Duering is urging drivers to make sure their trucks and trailers are secure until their relief arrives. He also urges that if anyone has information about the stolen trucks and trailers to contact the Grand Island Police Department.
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