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A culinary heist: Chef’s BBQ smoker hauled off

This 1,700-pound smoker was stolen early Sunday morning from Pepper’s Ole Fashion BBQ on San Pedro. (Courtesy Daniel Morgan)

Did you happen to see a 1,700-pound barbecue pit atop a two-wheel trailer traveling down Albuquerque streets “ashes and smoke billowing out of the back” early Sunday morning? Daniel Morgan, proprietor of Pepper’s Ole Fashion BBQ, wants to know.

Morgan said a thief took the black and red 200-gallon smoker from his restaurant’s parking lot on San Pedro and Copper between midnight and 5 a.m. Sunday. The smoker was cooking up a batch of brisket when it was taken.

“What on God’s earth do you think they would want with it?” Morgan asked Sunday evening, later wondering if the person or people responsible got a whiff of the “meat smell.”

“You know what, I wouldn’t be surprised,” he said.

Morgan said most of the meat the restaurant serves is prepared in an indoor barbecue pit and he uses the custom built apparatus for catering gigs. Replacing the $5,800 smoker and the trailer it was sitting on when it was stolen will be a stretch, he said.

Pepper’s was featured in May on the Cooking Channel show “Big Bad BBQ Brawl.” He said that he saw an uptick in business as a result of that appearance, but that saving enough to buy a replacement smoker will be a challenge.

“It’s gonna throw a big blow to the little consistent income we do have,” he said.

Morgan said he considered launching a crowdfunding page to help cover the costs of a replacement, but he’s holding off on that for now.

“We’re just gonna let people know that we will take prayers before money,” he said. “That’s what we need most of all.”

His own security footage didn’t capture the theft, but he’s hoping cameras on nearby businesses caught a glimpse of the vehicle pulling the smoker away.

“I felt like someone had stolen my bike when I was 10 years old,” he said. When that happened, Morgan said, he cried to his mother and threw a hissy fit. “I was mad at the world.”

Now his mother is gone, and he again finds himself disgusted that someone took something that “wasn’t theirs to take.”

“Here it is 40 years later,” he said, “and I have no one to cry to, and I’m too tired to throw a hissy fit.”