The $98,000 Ramen Heist Is Fascinating On So Many Levels

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There are, as far as I can tell, three possibilities with this ramen heist business. All of them are fascinating for different reasons. We’ll get to them in a minute or two. First, we need facts.

At some point between July 25 and August 1, a person or crew made off with a 53-foot trailer that was parked at Chevron station in Fayette County, Georgia. The theft was notable in part because it may have been connected to series of break-ins in the area, but mostly because the trailer contained, per the news coverage of the crime, $98,000 worth of ramen noodles.

A few things jump out here. There’s the part where $98,000 is a weirdly precise figure, so precise that there almost has to be a story behind it. Like, I’m picturing this:

MUSTACHIOED CHIEF OF POLICE: How much ramen was stolen, Johnson?

JOHNSON: About $100,000 worth.

MUSTACHIOED CHIEF OF POLICE: I didn’t say “about” how much ramen was stolen, did I?

JOHNSON: Sorry, sir.

We also don’t know if we’re talking retail or wholesale. Because a six-pack of ramen sells for $1.49 at Wegmans right now and that would put $98,000 worth of ramen somewhere in the neighborhood of 392,000 packages of ramen. That is a lot of ramen. It’s so much that you can’t even really break it down into digestible figures. Put it this way: If a family of four ate packages of ramen noodles every day for lunch and dinner, it would take them over 130 years to eat that much ramen. This is literally generations of noodles. Their children’s children would still have a pantry full of ramen packages. And again, this is street value. The wholesale figures are even crazier. We’re talking something like 500,000 packages at that point, maybe more. If each package is four inches long, that’s enough to wrap around the world almost seven times. If each package is one inch tall, the stack would be two miles taller than Mount Everest. Like I said, it’s a lot of ramen.

This brings us to our three possibilities.

The first is that this was a deliberate act. That a crew of thieves met and plotted and planned to figure out how to steal $98,000 worth of ramen. This is a lot of fun if you picture something like The Italian Job, with Mark Wahlberg and Jason Statham spending weeks on a scheme that involves souped-up Mini Coopers and Seth Green. It would also mean the heist was part of a coordinated effort with a buyer attached, probably, with the end destination being a collection of small stores trying to save a few cents here and there with black market ramen. That is how these types of large-scale food heists usually work, even though it’s much less enjoyable than imagining one person stealing $10,000 worth of crawfish and $300,000 worth of cheese for one huge party. Also, for the record, I did not expect to get to type “black market ramen” when I woke up today. Truly a blessed day.

The second possibility is that this was a crime of opportunity. The thief saw a trailer and realized he could take it and said “Eh, what the heck,” with the hope that it contained more traditional underworld currency like flat-screen televisions or sneakers or something else large and valuable enough to sell off in single units, if need be. Think like a criminal version of Let’s Make a Deal. There could be anything behind that door. It’s a roll of the dice. This one is hilarious if you picture the thief opening up the trailer and seeing rows and rows of ramen and trying to figure out what to do with it all. It’s so much that you couldn’t even give it away without people getting sick of it. “Larry, we’ll invite you to the wedding but if you try to give us a pallet of ramen as a gift like you did for Cheryl and Mark, I swear to God…”

The third possibility might be even funnier. This is one in which the thief actually thought he was stealing something more valuable, like the aforementioned televisions or sneakers, and drove the trailer to the buyer’s warehouse without checking first. Then he flings open the door with pride and chutzpah and is greeted with mass confusion as he turns around and sees more packets of ramen noodles than he ever even conceived of existing. Picture his face in that very moment.

The image is worth $98,000, at least.