Brewery Owner Doesn’t Wait For Police, Catches Thieves Himself

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Getty Images, Mario Tama

Investigative work by the co-founder of an upstart brewery in Avondale has averted a setback to the company’s business and may have collared some crooks in the process.

 Coby Lake, co-owner of Avondale Brewing Co., said around 40 metal kegs were stolen from the company’s newly renovated Alabama brewery

When he discovered the theft, Lake called police and filled out a report, but didn’t stop there.

“I started calling all the scrap yards in town because I figured that’s where they would take them,” he said.

When he reached a scrap yard in north Birmingham, he tapped the right one.

“We called and asked, ‘Did anybody bring in any kegs?’ and the guy said, ‘Yes, two guys just brought in about 35 or 40 of them,’ ” Lake said.

Lake headed straight there to claim his property and continue his own citi­zen police work.

“I got their driver’s li­censes, their tag and their addresses and I gave them to the police,” Lake said.

Lake recognized the men because he saw them scout­ing the brewery Wednesday night. They were persistent in getting to the hundreds of kegs Avondale stores on its back patio.

“Sometime early Thurs­day, they cut our back fence — they actually went through three other prop­erty owners’ fences to get to our fence so they wouldn’t be seen from the street,” Lake said.

As of Saturday, Lake had not heard if arrests had been made. Efforts to reach a Bir­mingham Police spokesman Saturday were unsuccessful.

Lake said he has not re­covered the kegs from the scrap yard yet.

“I left them there for po­lice to do their investigation and let me know when I can reclaim them,” he said. “The guy at the scrap yard said they would hold onto them until I come pick them up.”

Avondale Brewing Co. is going to need those kegs. The company has just re­ceived all of its required ap­provals to start commercial production and the brewery is in the process of switch­ing from the 10-gallon nano brew system it has used for test runs to the 480-gallon system it will use for com­mercial brewing and bot­tling.

Theft of essential property is always bad for business, but it’s even more damaging for a small upstart like Avondale Brewing Co.

“Those were empty kegs we were in the process of cleaning and getting ready to fill,” Lake said. “It’s a lot of money to our business. They scrapped them for 450 bucks but if we were to go buy them brand new, it would cost us $120 apiece.”

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