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December 11, 2013 at 10:45 AM

Police recover wine from Thanksgiving Day heist

Update at 1:51 p.m.:| Seattle police say the 2,500 bottles of stolen wine were recovered at a Sodo storage and manufacturing facility, but they aren’t prepared to release the name.

In the meantime, police are undertaking “the difficult task” of processing the wine. “Detectives need to photograph and document each bottle, enter it into evidence, and then we need to find the owner of each bottle,” Investigations Lt.Greg Schmidt said.

Police say some of the victims may not yet even know their wine was stolen since Esquin Wine & Storage staff and detectives are still attempting to reach the hundreds of people who rented specially temperature controlled storage units in the store.

Original post:| Seattle police announced this morning that they have recovered a ‘substantial’ amount of wine stolen during an elaborate Thanksgiving Day heist from a Sodo wine storage business.

The wine was recovered Tuesday after police served a search warrant at a building less than a mile away from Esquin Wine & Spirits, according to police. Police say it appears the wine had been kept in a “temperature controlled environment.” There was some concern that the wine, if not properly stored, could be damaged during the recent spate of subfreezing weather.

Chuck LeFever, owner of Esquin, has issued the following statement:

Words can’t express how thrilled we are that the wine stolen from our facility on Thanksgiving Day has been safely recovered. While we are still doing an inventory to make sure it’s all there, the volume recovered makes us eager with anticipation and we can’t wait to share the good news with our customers.

Thieves made off with more than 200 cases of wine, valued at $648,000, from Esquin Wine & Spirits on Nov. 28. Dan Miller, a spokesman for Esquin, said last week the company is offering $20,000 for information that leads to the “safe recovery of the wine.”

Charged with attempted first-degree arson, second-degree burglary and second-degree theft in connection with the thefts are Luke Thesing, 35, and Samuel Harris, 34. Thesing works as a plumber for Harris’ plumbing company, charging papers say.

The men are each being held in the King County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bail.

The two men are accused of disabling motion detectors, spray-painting over surveillance cameras, sawing through plasterboard to access vintages in private storage lockers, charges say. They are also accused of tampering with gas lines that could have caused a big explosion had the gas reached an open flame, charging papers say.

Despite efforts to cover up the theft, one of the Esquin cameras wasn’t completely painted over and employees at the wine facility were able to identify Harris, who used his name and address on forms to rent a wine-storage unit, charging papers say.

The identity of his alleged accomplice, however, remained a mystery until last week, according to charging papers. Police found receipts to home-improvement stores among Harris’ belongings when he was booked, the papers say.

Based on the dates and times on those receipts, detectives were able to get surveillance footage from a Lowe’s store on Rainier Avenue South, which showed Harris and Thesing purchasing supplies, the papers say.

A shipping label found in Harris’ wine-storage locker led detectives to a San Francisco wine consultant, who told police he purchased $100,000 of wine from Harris and another man in April or May, charging papers say. Through an online search, Detective Don Jones determined there had been a large wine theft in the Bay Area in March, the papers say.

Police in Seattle are comparing notes with their counterparts in San Francisco to see if there’s a link between the  thefts.

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: Burglary, Seattle Police Department, wine theft


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