This California Wine Heist Is One For The Books

A thief broke into a fine wine store and took over $700,000 worth of bottles.

While we might not always actively think about it, some of the foods and beverages we enjoy can inspire a lucrative black market, and it seems like nothing involves more intricate theft than booze. Case in point: a recent heist in California, during which a thief managed to nab about $700,000 worth of wine by pulling a stunt worthy of a bank robbery flick, reports the Santa Monica Daily Press.

How a wine thief pulled off a massive burglary

The incident occurred just after midnight on Saturday, July 1 at Lincoln Fine Wines in Venice, California. If you've seen Ocean's Eleven, there's a chance these tactics will sound familiar.

Shop owner Nazmul Haque believes that the thief was able to scale some storage containers outside the building to gain access to the wine shop's roof. They were then able to cut a five-by-three-foot hole in the roof and lower themselves into the store's climate-controlled wine cellar via a rope.

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The thief (possibly acting with accomplices) had surely done some planning, because some of the security cameras were repositioned, and some had socks placed over them to obscure their view. The burglar was able to spend three hours in the wine cellar, since no motion sensors or cameras were installed in that part of the store, but as soon as they entered the main floor, the alarm went off.

The security camera caught the hoodie-clad thief in the act, but they were eventually able to make off with over 600 bottles of fine wine worth an estimated $700,000 or more. CNN reports that some of the goods included a bottle of Chateau Petrus, valued around $4,500, as well as a $6,000 bottle of Scotch whisky called The Last Drop.

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A heist this intricate had so many moving parts that the owner believes it took multiple people, along with some intricate planning to pull it off. When the alarm was triggered, Haque was alerted as to what was going on, but by the time he showed up at 4:50 a.m., he saw the crime scene illuminated by the morning sunbeam coming through the hole in the roof.

The incident is currently under investigation, but in the meantime, Haque has sent lists of the stolen goods to local wine stores and auction houses to see if they come across the bottles, because the criminal might be trying to resell quickly.

This isn't the first time brazen wine thieves have made headlines. In early 2021, some French wine thieves made off with $675,000 worth of goods. The robbery ended up with the burglars chucking bottles of wine at the cops, and they were ultimately able to get away during the chase.

Haque is understandably upset; his collection is irreplaceable and took decades to assemble. But he says local community members have come in to buy more wine than usual and to support him, which has been helping. Keep an eye out for some rare wines on eBay—you just might have a lead on some stolen goods.

 

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