By Madeleine Thomas
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A California man has been charged with stealing nearly 200 pounds (91 kg) of beeswax from the beekeeper who employed him and selling it to support his drug habit, in what local police say is their first arrest for pilfering the gooey substance.
Karl Robert Glick, 26, a resident of Madera County in California's agricultural Central Valley, was arrested on Saturday after his employer found in Glick's car a $1,700 receipt for sale of beeswax to a Fresno company, Madera County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Erica Stuart said.
Deputies also seized nearly 200 pounds (91 kg) of beeswax from Glick's home, Stuart said. Authorities believe Glick was melting the wax into sellable portions at his home, where deputies also found drug paraphernalia, she said.
Beehive thefts happen occasionally in the area given its large agricultural industry, but beeswax theft is unusual, Stuart said.
“There are people who will come in and steal bees and try to sell them to other companies. There is possibly one other case of that this season,” Stuart said. "... But this is the first time involving beeswax.”
Though prices for beeswax vary, the stolen substance was valued at $3.25 per pound, Stuart said. It can be used to make candles or in the production of food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
Glick was charged with burglary and possession of stolen property, Stuart said. He is in jail, with his bail set at $15,000.
It was not immediately clear if Glick has retained an attorney, and he could not be reached for comment.
(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Eric Walsh)