Phil Trexler

Three suspects have answered the proverbial question: Where’s the beef?

Wayne County sheriff’s deputies accused the three of stealing more than $20,000 worth of beef from Canaan Meats in Creston.

The case — deputies dubbed it “Operation: Where’s the Beef?” — began late Wednesday, when meat company workers found a large storage freezer broken into and more than three tons of beef held in 50-pound boxes missing.

The boxes were labeled: “Longhorns Head to Tail.”

Deputies immediately fired up their social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook and faster than a medium-rare sirloin, their investigation was sizzling.

On Saturday, deputies went to a trailer park on Bardon Street in Wooster and arrested prime suspects James Malone, 36; Penny Malone, 41; and Tyler Chrostowski, 24, on charges of receiving stolen property.

Deputies said that inside a mobile home, they found a large quantity of meat covered with snow in two bathtubs. More beef was found in a refrigerator and even more in trash bags filled with snow. The meat recovered was worth about $9,000, but it will have to be destroyed, deputies said.

Deputies also said they recovered a ledger containing names of the suspects’ alleged meat customers.

The suspects were being held in the Wayne County Justice Center.

The stolen beef included Texas Longhorn beef jerky, summer sausage, hundreds of pounds of lean grind, halves of freezer beef, quarters and assortments of primal cuts of choice grill steaks.

Anyone with information about people who might have bought large amounts of beef packaged in boxes labeled “Longhorns Head to Tail” or those with more information about the theft is asked to call Wayne County Sheriff’s Office at 330-287-5750 or email tips to dhunter@wcjustice-center.org.

Phil Trexler can be reached at 330 996-3717 or ptrexler@thebeaconjournal.com.