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Nacho Average Criminal

Maybe it’s the former attorney in me talking, but just a bit of legal advice: If you are going to break into a convenience store, try not to leave an edible evidentiary trail behind you.

That’s what an Iowa man did late last Friday. As the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported, police were called after 20-year-old Franciso Jacob Munoz took a brick to the glass door of the Creekside Market and proceeded to help himself to some gas station treats. Upon reaching the scene of the crime, the police did some simple sleuthing. They followed a 100-yard trail of snack foods and found a highly inebriated Munoz, his shirt tale-tellingly slathered in nacho cheese, along with two cases of Corona. Munoz has been charged with third-degree burglary and second-degree criminal mischief.

All this for the love of processed cheese product?

Of course, maybe it should come as no surprise that cheese is an increasingly criminalizing comestible. In 2011, a study by the United Kingdom–based Centre for Retail Research found that cheese is the most shoplifted food in the world. Whoa!

As the Centre’s director, Joshua Bamfield, told The Huffington Post, stealing cheese is “a lucrative business opportunity for small time criminals. It’s not just grannies saying, I need some cheese I’ll just go and steal it. A lot of the theft is for resale and a lot of this cheese will be resold into other markets or to restaurants.”

Sure enough, if you google “stealing cheese,” the first result is a story on a Chattanooga couple arrested for taking 57 blocks of cheese, about $300 worth, from Georgia Walmarts. My curiosity piqued, I then decided to see what results I’d get for “cheese felony.” The Buffalo News didn’t disappoint: “Felony indictment in attempted theft of ramen, mac and cheese.” This is attempted petit larceny, people!

There’s even been a Philly Swiss cheese sex scandal! I won’t get into that, but what I will say is this: It’s not often that you get to use the words “cheese” and “pervert” in the same sentence. Clearly, this is some kind of cultural phenomenon that I (thankfully, especially in the latter case) have not been tuned into.

The whole Iowa incident leads me to do some soul-searching about what would make me do time for cheese. I’m too cautious by nature to try to resell the stolen goods (the more people involved in a crime, the more things that can go wrong), but I could be motivated by the prospect of personal enjoyment. And I do have a weakness for Morbier-style cheeses, and rosé, but that’s all I’m gonna say…

Feature Photo Credit: “Mmm… nachos” by jeffreyw | CC BY 2.0

Johnisha Levi

Johnisha Levi is a Boston-area pastry cook and one of those very rare (think Pegasus) D.C. natives. If ithere's a documentary on food or true crime, chances are that she's seen it (or it's waiting in her Netflix queue). She's a culinary history nerd who is eager to spend her summer at culture learning more about cheese.

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