Local Restaraunt Catches Brazen Keg Thieves

By: Jessica Zartler Email
By: Jessica Zartler Email

Tapping a cold one is becoming a hot trend and not for the beer inside. More kegs are getting stolen and sold for scrap metal.

11 News Reporter Jessica Zartler talked to some businesses who are hopping mad and explains how these thefts could affect you next time you buy a barrel.

Keeping the kegs rolling and the beer flowing is part of what keeps Old Chicago going. The bubbly brings in a quarter of the restaraunt's revenue.

So when kegs started disappearing, managers went on the prowl.

"I caught kids jumping over the fence, going to extremes, throwing kegs over the fence and running away in their cars," Old C's General Manager Scott Bialkowski told 11 News on Monday.

He nabbed some people in the act and recovered a few beer barrels but was upset at how many were gone for good.

"At any given time we have $1,200 in kegs on hand so when you lose three or four--that's a good chunk of money."

Old Chicago's is just one of thousands of restaraunts, breweries and liquor stores that have had kegs stolen. According to the Beer Institute out of Washington there were 300,000 thefts at a loss of $50 million last year. The draw?

Kegs offer several pounds of metal to sell for scrap. Scrap prices have doubled in the past five years.

But businesses and scrap yards are cracking down, trying to keep the cash in their registers.

"Now if I don't have paperwork for a keg, I won't give the deposit back," Andy's Liquors Manager John Olds told 11 News on Monday.

Olds says he's also raised keg deposits from $12 to $40 so people aren't tempted to make a buck on the barrel while scrap yards have stopped taking them all together.

Old Chicago isn't taking anymore chances. Managers at the restaraunt built a shed just to house their hops under lock and key.

"Haven't had any stolen since," said Bialkowski.

Because beer is big business--too big to get scrapped.

If you had labor day party Monday, make sure you have your deposit slip when you bring back your keg. Liquor stores say they no longer take kegs back without one.

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