Major Cheese Heist Puts Dutch Dairy Farmers on Alert

The Netherlands, home to 1.6 million cows (and over 17 million people), is a large producer of dairy, about two-thirds of which is exported, according to the Dutch Dairy Association. In 2020, the Netherlands exported 7.5 billion euros (about 8.1 billion dollars) worth of dairy products.

Mr Dekker says he has warned the 290 members of the advocacy group he leads to be extra vigilant, installing cameras and checking their locks before going to bed. In total, the Netherlands, a major producer of cheese and other dairy products, has 500 farms that make cheese and other products from the animals they own, he said.

When the Netherlands saw similar robberies a few years ago, Mr Dekker said he had seen security footage of the thefts and that he was shocked by the speed and violence used by the thieves. NRC estimated at the time that in 2015 almost 19,000 pounds of cheese had been stolen.

Yet this is a special case, says Mireille Aalders, a police spokeswoman. “I know batches of cheese were stolen around the country a while ago, but this isn’t the kind of incident that happens weekly or monthly,” she said. “It’s quite unique.”

The problem is not limited to the Netherlands. Italy’s precious Parmesan cheese is a frequent targetincluding a daring nighttime robbery from £25,000 in 2018.

Wisconsin has its own issues with what one cheese seller called “cheese pirates† In 2016, someone made off with more than 20,000 pounds of cheese, worth more than $46,000, when an unmarked trailer was stolen from a parking lot in Oak Creek.

A major robbery such as the one on Mrs van Dorp’s farm is not only financially unfortunate, Mr Dekker said. For many farmers, who make cheese from milk from their own farm animals and often live in the same yard, it feels personal.


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