Man Steals Tons of Cheese, Flees to NJ: Police

Man's plan was to sell the cheese to the first available buyer, police say

By Dan Stamm and AP
|  Thursday, Mar 28, 2013  |  Updated 3:23 PM EDT
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Big Cheese Heist Ends at Rest Stop

New Jersey State Police

Veniamin Balika, 34, is accused of stealing Wisconsin meunster cheese and trying to sell it in New Jersey.

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An Illinois man accused of stealing 21 tons of Wisconsin cheese was arrested in New Jersey earlier this week.

Veniamin Balika, 34, of Plainfield, Ill. was arrested Tuesday afternoon at the Vince Lombardi rest area of the New Jersey Turnpike, according to New Jersey State Police.

State Police Lt. Stephen Jones said Wednesday the man was driving a refrigerated truck carrying 42,000 pounds of Muenster cheese. Jones says the cheese company, K&K Cheese in Cashton, Wis., valued the cargo -- about 1,135 cases of cheese -- at $200,000.

New Jersey Det. Oliver Sissman tells WISC-TV in Wisconsin that the suspect used false paperwork to obtain the cheese.

Balika's plan was to sell the cheese to the first available buyer to pull in at the rest stop, according to State Police.

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Company spokesman Kevin Everhart says K&K can't guarantee the cheese hasn't been tampered with, so it didn't ask for the product back.

Jones says if the cheese passes inspections by health authorities it will be donated to charity.

Balika was sent to Bergen County jail in lieu of $25,000 bail charged with receiving stolen property and fencing goods, according to police.

 


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