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July 14, 2014 at 3:03 PM

Thieves behind elaborate Sodo wine heist plead guilty

Two men accused of stealing more than $600,000 worth of wine from a Sodo wine storage business during an elaborate Thanksgiving Day heist pleaded guilty this afternoon in King County Superior Court.

Samuel Harris, 35, pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree arson, second-degree burglary and 10 counts of first-degree theft.  Co-defendant Luke Thesing, 36, pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary and nine counts of first-degree theft.

When the pair are sentenced July 25, King County prosecutors will recommend that Harris serve nine years in prison and Thesing, a little over 5 1/2 years. As part of the plea deal, Harris pleaded guilty to an additional count of first-degree theft after stealing more than $250,000 worth of wine from a Bellevue woman in May or June 2013, said Deputy Prosecutor Peter Lewicki.

Prosecutors say the two men entered Esquin Wine & Spirits  on Fourth Avenue, disabled motion sensors and spray-painted surveillance cameras before making off with more than 200 cases of high-end wine, estimated at $648,000. Before they left, Harris cut gas lines and tampered with a pilot light, which fire officials said could have caused an explosion in the retail building.

The theft was discovered the next day when someone smelled gas in the building, police said.

The pair missed one surveillance camera, allowing Esquin employees to identify Harris, who previously had rented a wine-storage locker, according to charging documents.

Thesing was arrested after police found among Harris’ possessions a receipt from Lowe’s, which had surveillance video showing the two men together, according to the documents.

Harris has been in jail since his arrest on Dec 2, and Thesing since Dec 7.

According to police, a substantial amount of the stolen wine was recovered on Dec. 11 in a temperature-controlled storage facility less than a mile from Esquin’s Sodo facility.

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: arson, Burglary, King County Superior Court

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