Somerset: A Somerset cheesemaker has offered a £500 reward after two of its finest vintage cheddars were stolen during a prestigious show.
The judges at the Yeovil show had crowned the two hefty blocks of cheese champion and reserve champion and the specimens were being left in a marquee overnight so that they could be admired by members of the public next day.
Thieves took the blocks, weighing 20kg each and with a retail value of around £800, and the winners’ certificates from the tent during overnight on Saturday. The cheesemakers at Wyke Farms in Bruton, Somerset, were devastated that two of the best blocks they had ever produced have vanished.
Rich Clothier, a third generation cheesemaker and the managing director of Wyke Farms, said he believed the thieves had targeted the prize-winning cheddars and may have been stealing to order. He said it was possible the cheeses were already abroad.
“They left all the other cheeses and just took ours,” he said. “It’s disappointing. To win the champion and reserve was really nice for us. It took around a year-and-a-half to make those cheeses. They are among the best we have ever produced.”
Clothier said that while the retail value was put at £800 it is possible that they could be worth much more if the right wealthy cheese-loving customers were found.
Wyke Farms sells to 160 countries with the US and France big fans.
He said: “These cheeses could be considered masterpieces; it’s a bit like having a valuable painting stolen. Clothier said he was proud of the cheeses’ “rounded flavour” with tones of “dairy, sweet and nuttiness”.
“They were complex, like a fine bottle of wine.”
Clothier said it was possible the theft had been carefully planned.
“You can’t just put one of those in a bag. It’s like carrying a bag of sand away.”
The cheesemaker is offering a £500 reward for information that leads to the recovery of the cheese or the arrest of the thief or thieves.
Cheese thefts are not unknown to the family, however. In 1789 one of Clothier’s ancestors had a wheel of cheese stolen from his cart in Kilver Street, Shepton Mallet.
This cheese, then worth seven shillings, was found in the possession of a woman who claimed it “fell off the back of the cart”.