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December 10, 2013 at 5:08 PM

Police seek links between Seattle, San Francisco wine thefts

Seattle police detectives investigating the Thanksgiving Day theft of $648,000 worth of high-end wine have contacted police in San Francisco about the theft from a wine warehouse in that city in March to see if the two cases are potentially connected, said a spokesman for the San Francisco Police Department.

Samuel Harris, 34, and Luke Thesing, 35, have been charged in King County Superior Court in connection with the elaborate theft at Esquin Wine Merchants in Sodo on Nov. 28. A shipping label found in a storage locker Harris rented at Esquin led Seattle police to a San Francisco wine consultant, who said he purchased $100,000 worth of wine from Harris and another man earlier this year, according to charging documents.

A Seattle detective, researching wine thefts in the San Francisco area, came across a media report of a theft from a wine warehouse in March, charging document said.

“Seattle police have contacted us and our investigators will be talking to each other about that case,” San Francisco Police spokesman Albie Esparza said today.

In the San Francisco theft, someone cut a hole in a rolling metal door to gain access to the warehouse sometime in the overnight hours between March 26 and 27, Esparza said. At 12:01 a.m. on March 27, a motion detector inside the warehouse was activated, but when officers responded, they didn’t see anything suspicious and determined the building’s perimeter was secure, he said.

The next morning, employees found the damage to the rolling door, Esparza said.

There weren’t any video surveillance images of the theft, which Esparza characterized as “a significant loss.” He said the case remains open and declined to provide a dollar amount or say how many bottles were taken. As far as Esparza knows, none of the wine has been recovered.

According to a news report about the San Francisco theft by television station KTVU, the suspect or suspects stole 80 bottles of wine — which is just shy of seven cases — with a combined value of more than $100,000. The theft occurred at the renowned Fine Wines International, which has been located on Palou Avenue for more than 30 years as a purveyor of high-end wines, KTVU reported.

On Tuesday, Chuck LeFevre, owner of Esquin Wine Merchants, released a statement expressing relief that two suspects have been apprehended in connection with the Seattle theft and hope that the stolen wine will be found.

“While the stolen wine still has yet to be recovered, the progress made on the case is excellent and we continue to believe that the $20,000 reward that we’ve posted for the safe return of the wine will help us recover it,” says the statement, which commends Seattle police investigators for their efforts on the case.

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: San Francisco, Seattle Police Department, theft


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