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Canadians nab syrup rustlers after massive maple sap heist

Three down, five more sticky-fingered felons to go

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Updated Police in Canada have confirmed the first arrests over a heist which saw maple syrup worth $18m siphoned off and sold.

After a massive manhunt by local police, the Canadian Mounties, and border security, three people have been arrested and charged with theft, conspiracy, handling stolen goods, and fraud. Five others are also being sought and around 70 per cent of the delectable tree sap has been recovered.

"The investigation is ongoing and we expect more arrests," Sûreté du Québec Sergeant Claude Denis told the Montreal Gazette.

The golden goodness was stolen from a strategic maple syrup reserve operated by the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, beginning in August of last year. The thieves drove tanker trucks into the compound and siphoned off the equivalent of 16,000 barrels of syrup. The thefts were only discovered after an inspection of stocks in September.

The three suspects were seized in a combined operation that saw simultaneous arrests in New Brunswick, Ontario, and New England. Police also seized tankers, two forklift trucks, four tanks for boiling the syrup, and six electronic scales.

Quebec produces more than three quarters of the world's maple syrup, siphoning the sap from three species of maple, filtering it, and then concentrating the sap as required. It's worth millions to the Canadian economy each year, as well as being a sweet source of national pride.

Here in the offices of El Reg USA we have our own Canadian-born hack, who waxes nostalgically of a childhood spent picking fresh maple syrup out of the snow. It's comforting to know that the world's stocks of liquid gold are safe for the moment. ®

Update

Quebec police report another 18 people have been arrested for their parts in the great syrup heist, with seven more being sought. Hopefully they can make the charges stick.

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