A Raw Chicken Heist With a Rotten Ending

The semitrailer carrying 35,000 pounds of frozen chicken, abandoned at a western Montana truck stop on Sept. 24, 2014 in Missoula Photograph by Martin Kidston/The Missoulian via AP Photo

Credit card data remain a dazzling prize for the thieves who have already struck Target, Home Depot, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, and most recently, the sandwich chain Jimmy John’s. But lesser criminals have far less technologically ambitious schemes. Take this week’s failed chicken heist.

A trucker moving 37,000 pounds of raw chicken—valued at $80,000—tried to hold the meat for ransom in Montana, according to a report in the Missoulian. He sent a ransom note to his company, Dixie River Freight, via text message and said he would return the chicken in exchange for money. Dixie River said no, so he abandoned the trailer at Town Pump’s Flying J truck stop, where the cargo was left to rot.

The truck was reported stolen on Aug. 27, and workers at the truck stop noticed it last Saturday. Just imagine the smell.

This is not the first case of stolen chicken—remember when all those frozen wings were lifted in Georgia ahead of the 2013 Super Bowl?—but it might be the grossest. “Chicken juice dripped from the container, staining the ground with a gooey red and translucent liquid. The flies had gathered around the juices in the 90-degree heat and a faint odor of rotting meat wafted in the air,” wrote Missoulian.com in its account of the gruesome discovery.

Raw chicken might not be a glamorous heist, but food is the most stolen kind of cargo. That’s because it is quite hard to track. In 2013, food and drinks accounted for 27 percent of cargo thefts in the U.S., according to FreightWatch International, and the number of loads of stolen seafood, candy, cookies and snacks, dairy and eggs, and meat all more than doubled from 2012.

Unfortunately for the Montana truck stop, the rancid chicken-filled trailer can’t be moved until authorities and Dixie River’s insurance company figure out how to get it to a landfill in a sanitary way.

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