Thieves collect the empties - 200 kegs worth £12,000

PUBLISHED: 10:35 06 February 2007 | UPDATED: 22:33 28 May 2010

Alan Pateman

Alan Pateman

PUB landlords across the Fens were urged to step up the surveillance of empty beer kegs following the theft of 200 kegs - worth £12,000 - from a Wisbech brewery. Thieves broke into Elgoods on North Brink sometime over the weekend and stole the stainless s

PUB landlords across the Fens were urged to step up the surveillance of empty beer kegs following the theft of 200 kegs - worth £12,000 - from a Wisbech brewery.

Thieves broke into Elgoods on North Brink sometime over the weekend and stole the stainless steel kegs from a compound.

"It's quite staggering," said head brewer Alan Pateman. "Whoever stole them must have worked like fury loading them, and there's a likelihood at least two 7.5 tonnes lorries would have been needed to take them away."

Mr Pateman estimates the most likely time for the theft was in the early hours of Saturday but he has joined with police in appealing for anyone who may have seen something to get in touch.

"The stolen kegs represent what is effectively a fair part of our working stock, but luckily we do have a reasonable stock and will be able to meet all our supplies.

"Unfortunately, however, it's an expensive business to replace them and was not something we had budgeted for."

He added: "I would like to issue a timely warning to all Elgood tenants to ensure their empty kegs are stored securely. I know this is a nation-wide problem but it still doesn't help when it happens to us locally."

Mark Hastings, of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: "This is a severe and growing problem for the industry, with keg theft now on a large scale.

"Anyone dealing in stolen kegs needs to know that surveillance is being increased, and sooner or later they are going to get caught.

"Those found guilty can face stiff fines, and even imprisonment. It is just not worth it."

* A confidential hotline to report offenders, Keg Watch, can be contacted on 0808 100 1945. There is a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the theft or unauthorised destruction of containers.

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