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The Great SweetWater Beer Heist: A Timeline

It has been a crazy week for SweetWater Brewing Company in Atlanta, Georgia. Last week, the brewery came to work to find nearly 80,000 bottles of beer missing. That’s slightly more than a couple of 12-packs.

Turns out, thieves stole two flatbed trucks full of freshly bottled SweetWater beer. That’s roughly $90,000 dollars of the fermented beverage.

As this week winds down, the beer has been found and the investigation continues. We touched based with SweetWater in order to give you a timeline of what happened.

  • 6/20 4:00 am –  The overnight shift finished loading refrigerated trucks with newly packaged beer. One truck was to be transported across the street for Tackle Box re-pack (which is done manually). The second, destined for United Distributors.
  • 6/21 9:00 am – The crew discovers two flatbed trucks are missing, alerts the office staff.
  • 6/21 10:00 am – Atlanta Police contacted
  • Noon – SweetWater contacts Marten, the flatbed owners, pull the GPS coordinates, divulging everywhere the trailer has been since leaving the brewery.
  • 3 pm – Both trailers discovered, abandoned in separate locations in south Atlanta.
  • 5 pm(ish) – Using the GPS history, 10 pallets out of the 40 missing are found in a random warehouse.
  • 6/22 – Tipster contacts SweetWater. A man approached her on the street, attempting to sell her SweetWater beer. The information is passed to Atlanta Police. Surveillance footage catches the alleged salesman, driving in  a yellow truck cab (pic below).
  • 6/23 – SweetWater contacts a private investigator, who works with the Southeastern Transportation Security Council, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigations Major Theft Unit. Those folks begin assisting the APD. Within 24 hours, the remaining 30 pallets are located.
  • 6/29 – The beer comes home to the brewery. Special thanks to the APD, GBI special agents and Cargo Theft Investigator Bob Hastings of SETSC, who tracked down the remaining stolen beer.

SweetWater’s Tucker Berta Sarkisian tells Beer Street Journal that the brewery is working with their insurance company, but as of right now the $90,000 comes as a loss to the brewery.

Unofficial Beer Street conspiracy theories.

Stealing two flatbed trucks isn’t exactly a crime of opportunity. You need at least one 18-wheeler truck cab (if not two in this instance.) Plus pallet jacks, forklifts, and a few extra hands to pull this off fairly quickly. It would seem to us that these thieves have done this sort of thing before.

According to Keith Lewis, VP of Operations for CargoNet, a cargo theft prevention and recovery network, Georgia is a top 5 market for cargo theft. This time, the cargo was a little “hoppier” this time.

After the countless episodes of CSI (both Vegas and Miami), plus a heavy dose of Cold Case files, we think Monday Night Brewing did it. The tie wearing nerds have always had it in for the folks on Ottley Drive….

SweetWater Beer Theft 2

Yellow cab truck seen on surveillance footage. The suspect was driving it when he approached the tipster to sell her potentially stolen beer.

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