60-year-old East Austin barbecue legend Sam's BBQ, Willie's Bar-B-Que and La Morenita all had their business licenses revoked as a result of Operation Meat Locker. Austin police had been working with HEB for the past three months to bust meat thieves — it's a "growing crime" in Central Texas.
Apparently thieves shove meat down their pants to sneak it out of grocery stores and "walk long distances or ride the bus" in order to sell it to restaurants. Shockingly, investigators discovered "food safety was not a priority."
Officers posing as meat thieves approached 25 restaurants with the stolen meat, and only the three listed above went for it. (Good job, everyone else.) Five arrests have been made. The restaurants can apply to have their permits reinstated but must remain closed until that happens.
Here are two local news clips, gleefully laden with meat puns:
Video: Where's the Beef? Theft Ring Busted
Video: Austin Restaurants Busted For Serving Stolen Meat
· Where's the Beef? Theft Ring Busted [KXAN]
· Austin Restaurants Busted For Serving Stolen Meat [KVUE]
· Restaurant Workers Charged With Buying Stolen Meat [Statesman]
· Sam's BBQ Shuttered by the City, Accused of Meat Theft [-EATX-]