A global boom in the market price for commodities, including steel and aluminum, has sent scrap-metal prices soaring. And that has created a tempting target for criminals world-wide in everyday objects that contain metals – from light poles along highways to lowly beer kegs.
With beer kegs, the crime spree began in the United Kingdom, where more than 250,000 wobbled out of circulation last year, according to the British Beer and Pub Association. Last fall, thieves scaled a chain-link fence and made off with 430 kegs in a single night from a storage yard belonging to Empire Distributors Inc. in Charlotte, N.C. The empty kegs had contained Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada and Pyramid brand beers. “I don’t know why they didn’t just ram the fence down,” says Hank Bauer, Empire’s sales manager. Empire is now locking its kegs in a warehouse to keep them safe.