A bottle of barbecue sauce was the latest lead in a police hunt for $1,500 of stolen meat, according to Beckley police.

The owner of Southern Red's Barbecue reported the theft early Thursday morning after the owner discovered 12 pork shoulders and six beef briskets were missing from the restaurant's outside grills. Police Lt. Eric Rogers said the total retail value of the meat was $1,500, which makes the crime a felony.

Police followed a trail of meat chunks, which were found in the restaurant's parking lot, and later discovered at a Red Carpet Inn nearly four miles away, behind a trash can.

Police Sgt. Jeff McPeake conducted interviews with hotel residents, and inside one room he saw a bottle of barbecue sauce in plain view atop a dresser. He asked the woman who answered the door about the condiment and she said two friends had brought over a bunch of meat the night before. The woman allowed a search of her room, which led to the discovery of 50 pounds of meat crammed into two hotel refrigerators.

The woman said she did not know where her friends had obtained the meat from.

Rogers said an investigation is ongoing.