Who moved the cheese? Now we know: a guy from Illinois, according to police, who they say made off with some $200,000 worth of Wisconsin Muenster.
Police picked up Veniamin Balika, 34, of Plainfield, Ill. in New Jersey after detectives determined the truck he was driving — an 18-wheeler — harbored 42,000 pounds of stolen cheese. They say he’d been preparing to sell the cheese on the cheap to East Coast retailers. Balika allegedly used false paperwork to trick a distributor in Cashton, Wis. into loading his truck with the massive cheese shipment, originally intended for a Texas destination. He was arrested at the Vince Lombardi Service Area off the New Jersey State Turnpike
“This is the first time this has ever happened to us,” said Kevin Everhart, general manager of K&K / Old Country Cheese Factory (via Channel 3000). ”The trucking company we contract with will take care of the money we lost, but it’s still a shame. Still sad that this happened.”
The tragedy? Since the cheese might have been tampered with, K&K elected not to ask for it back. Well, a tragedy for K&K anyway — Channel 3000 reports that New Jersey health authorities will inspect the stolen food and, assuming it’s deemed safe for consumption, donate all 42,000 pounds to charity.