Police in a pickle after McClure’s products pilfered

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Forget black market booze or cigarettes. The latest product being hustled in party stores and groceries is the pickle.

At issue is the popular, locally jarred and marketed McClure’s. More than $13,000 in pickles are reported unaccounted for at the St. Aubin offices and warehouse of the local pickle company.

“The people at McClure’s became concerned when they checked inventory and couldn’t account for thousands of dollars in missing pickles — and also cases of their Bloody Mary Mix and chips,” Detroit Police Detective Mike Pacteles said.

The theft totaling $13,867 included 58 cases of chips worth $710 and $486 in Bloody Mary mix. The pickles were in 14 five-gallon containers and 18 one-gallon containers.

Company officials “called an employee meeting a couple weeks ago and one woman said she had been out shopping and saw pickles, chips and Blood Mary mix at stores which don’t receive deliveries from McClure’s,” the officer said.

The five stores found selling products — at bargain prices — were near McClure’s Pickles facilities, Pacteles said. Pickles that normally retailed for $9 to $10 a jar were being sold for $3-$4, he added.

“I have done a lot of things in my 18 years as a police officer, but didn’t think I would be setting aside other work to be out looking for a pickle bandit,” he said.

Asked about the theft and investigation, McClure’s CEO Bob McClure told The Detroit News: “I have my team on this and we are trying to get answers.”

The “crazy part,” Pacteles said, is any store found selling products without proper purchase orders could be facing felony charges of receiving and concealing stolen property. Conviction could carry hefty fines and prison time for owners or managers.

“We assume that this is an inside job involving employees or former employees and will be able to eventually identify the person or persons involved, and they could be facing theft and embezzlement charges,” he said, adding the investigation has produced several suspects and stores that may face inspection.

“Black market products is a huge problem in the city,” he said. “When I was working at the 7th Precinct near Eastern Market, we had black market meats being stolen all the time and sold by businesses.”

Anyone with information about the thefts is asked to call Pacteles at (313) 596-5156.

mmartindale@detroitnews.com

(248) 338-0319