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What’s with all of the food-crime stories?

2 min read

Restaurant and Foodservice

This month, chef Jamie Oliver lamented napkin and plumbing theft at his Jamie’s Italian restaurant chain. Last week brought more tales of food-related crime, ranging from silly to serious.

The New York Times reported on an ordinance in Rome that prohibits eating at the Spanish Steps and other areas of “particular historic, artistic, architectonic and cultural value,” including the Colosseum and the Pantheon. The measure is designed to protect these treasures and came about after the mayor had a run-in with miscreants camping out in the city center and decided Rome needed to be protected and respected.

Some say the measure goes too far. Police are actively chasing out workers who sit outside to eat lunch, the Times reported, and repeat offenders can be fined as much as $650. Political opponents of the mayor are having a field day, and a protest came in the form of a pizza- and panini-chomping flash mob on the steps of City Hall.

While Rome’s mayor might be ridiculed for trying to care for historic attractions, New York City Fire Department officials say they’re trying to protect tourists and residents as they express concern that a proliferation of food trucks could prove not only a fire hazard but also a terrorist threat, Gizmodo reported.

About 3,100 food trucks hold city permits, and more are expected each year. Plus, there’s a black market for the coveted licenses, according to the Fire Department.

“Officials also claim that the truck size and the sheer number of modifications in them would allow a terrorist to install a large bomb and drive it into ‘high profile locations’, ‘high pedestrian traffic areas’ and ‘high-rise office buildings,’ where they can inflict heavy damage,” Jesus Diaz wrote.

Food & Wine provided a roundup of food-related crime on its Mouthing Off blog, starting with the sickening tale of a chef who was convicted last month of murdering and cooking his wife in 2009. Another story involved a thief who would break into houses, then tunnel into nearby businesses, including restaurants, and steal valuables including cash, vodka, whiskey, burgers and pork belly.

Meanwhile, Kissimmee, Fla., police are investigating a man accused of stealing a food truck and burying it to make a backyard bunker so he would be ready for the apocalypse.

What’s the most notorious food-related crime in your memory? Tell us in the comments.