The Sweetest Heist in Canadian History: How a Gang Stole $18.7 Million Worth of Maple Syrup
The Great Canadian Maple Syrup Heist was a theft that occurred over several months between 2011 and 2012. The perpetrators stole nearly 3,000 tonnes of maple syrup, valued at C$18.7 million, from a facility operated by the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers (FPAQ), which represents 77% of the global maple syrup supply. Many people liken the group to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
The heist was a coordinated effort by a clever group led by Richard Vallières and his gang. They swapped out barrels of syrup with fake barrels filled with water. The knock-off barrels looked identical to the real ones.
The crime went unnoticed for over a year, and the FPAQ didn’t realize that something was awry until the barrels started to rust. The water made the barrels rust, which wouldn’t have happened if they were filled with syrup.
The Sûreté du Québec, RCMP, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection launched a massive investigation, leading to the arrest of 26 people in connection with the crime. Richard Vallières was sentenced to 8 years in prison, as well as a $9.4 million fine, with an extension to fourteen years if the fine is not paid.
The heist is the most valuable theft in Canadian history and was featured in the Netflix documentary series Dirty Money, in season 1, episode 5, “The Maple Syrup Heist.”