Thieves tapping beer kegs for money

By Dan Wells - bio | email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -- Labor Day events around the Tri-state typically amount to parades, concerts and picnics.

But if you're hosting a party with a beer keg, be on the look out, because crooks are snatching those stainless steel canisters for money.

This trend comes as the price for stainless scrap keeps rising. It's nearly doubled in the last five years, making a keg worth more than $35 to would-be thieves.

It's a problem not getting tapped out this Labor Day weekend -- thieves skipping the brew, and swapping kegs for cash.

"It's atrocious. If you don't keep your kegs under lock and key they will take them a in a heartbeat," said J.D. Willett with the Beer House in Newport.

Willett has worked in the beer industry for 25 years, and says this theft problem is big business for bandits.

"I would say its a 50 to 100 billion dollar industry in this country," he said.

At the Beer House in Newport, they have about 1,000 kegs on site. Company officials say they're protective of this product because each keg costs about $175 dollars to make.

Now, if a thief turns an 18 pound keg taken for scrap, they'll get between $35 to $40.

To combat thefts, beer distributors across the area have increased what they ask for a keg deposit.

"We raised from $10 a keg to $30 and has that deterred thefts dramatically, probably it reduced that amount by 90 percent," said Willett.

And for that last 10 percent, the beer industry is now pumping new technolgy into the mix.

"The steeling of kegs is so atrocious that they now are putting GPS censors on them so if they get stolen they can track them to the junkyard," said Willett.

Now another deterrant the beer industry is using to prevent theft is by labelling kegs with a brand name or distributor tag. This way would-be-theieves have to have a sales reciept for the keg. Otherwise scrap yards won't take them.