Texas Man Arrested for Stealing $2000 of Brisket

AP Photo
AP Photo

AUSTIN, Texas — Texans love our barbecue, and skyrocketing brisket prices were not going to get in the way of one Central Texas man, who allegedly stole $2,o00 worth of the flavorful meat from local grocery stores.

James Cordell Avery, 47, was arrested on Sunday night and charged with theft. In late December, the Austin Police Department had identified Avery as a suspect and had put out a press release with his mugshot from a prior arrest, seeking the public’s assistance in locating him. According to the release, Avery was suspected of stealing meat from at least 19 HEB grocery stores, 13 of which were in the Austin area.

According to the Austin American-Statesman, Police said that Avery would park a beige 2002 Buick in a disabled parking spot close to the entrance, enter the store, fill a shopping cart with briskets and other meats, walk out of the store, and put the meat in the back seat of the Buick. Avery is believed to have sold the brisket to local barbecue vendors, although police have not identified any specific ones.

Beef prices are at an all-time high, according to the Houston Chronicle, with the popular deckle-off brisket currently running $3.45 per pound, up from $2.14 per pound last year. Several years of drought conditions plus a stronger than expected demand for beef are the main causes for the price spike. Prices will likely stay high for at least another three or four years, according to Texas A&M professor and economist David Anderson, who addressed about 20 Texas barbecue restaurant owners on Texas A&M’s campus last month.

Avery is being held at the Travis County Jail, for the brisket theft and an unrelated offense committed in another county. His bail has been set at $12,000.

Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker.