Two Columbia sanitation workers who apparently couldn't stand by and let beer go down the drain allegedly took dozens of cases of expired brew from the city landfill.
Police and city supervisors are trying to determine if the salvage was a crime — theft of city property — or just a policy violation.
"If we determine it's a police matter, we will take some action," said Officer Jessie Haden, a Columbia police spokeswoman.
A Columbia distributor, Scheppers Distributing Co., sent 1,500 cases of expired beer to the landfill on April 1 in two shipments. The first shipment was destroyed immediately, but the second, containing about 700 cases of Budweiser and Michelob Ultra, was not.
Margrace Buckler, the city's human resource director, said two Solid Waste Division workers, who haven't been identified, brought a city truck to the landfill and hauled off about 50 cases of the beer.
Word spread of the acquisition. A week later, city officials reviewed video from the landfill and saw the workers drive away with their haul. City officials say they still don't know what happened to the beer.
When the sanitation workers were confronted on Monday, one quit, the Columbia Tribune reported. The other could face disciplinary action.
Buckler said it's likely that at least one landfill employee was involved because "the assumption is that someone made a phone call."
Once the beer was left at the landfill, it became city property. That means the city could be liable if the sanitation workers shared it with other people, Buckler said.
Scheppers President Joe Priesmeyer said the expired beer would not be a health concern, although it might have lost some of its taste. He said expired beer is usually dumped at the Scheppers' plant unless there is too much for the company to handle.
It's not unusual for people to want to take some beer, Priesmeyer said.
"Every once in a while, we'll have some beer get stolen by overzealous people off of our trucks," he said. "Beer is a popular product."