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Thieves plunder Californian vineyard

Raiders made off with over 1,200 pounds of grapes in a heist earlier this week in Oakley.

The vineyard owner, 90-year-old Stan Planchon, told local newspapers that he spotted lights among his vines at 1.30am.

After calling the police he drove down to confront the robbers, blocking in one of their vehicles and scattering them but several made off in a pick up with their haul worth around US$1,500.

The vines in question are thought to have been targeted precisely because their fruit is so valuable. Planchon sells the majority of his crop to nearby Rosenblum Cellars.

Planchon’s family has owned the vineyard since 1902 but the Zinfandel vines themselves are thought to be well over 100 years old.

If the thieves merely wanted to steal grapes they could have gone to neighbouring vineyards, ones not protected by a six-foot fence.

Planchon has said he believes someone with “specialist knowledge” was behind the raid but as the thieves stole under-ripe fruit and how they plan to sell it to a winery when documentation is required makes it appear likely that they were less well-informed.

Police recovered a bullet-riddled pick-up at the scene which had previously been reported stolen. No one has so far been arrested in connection with the case and the police say they have no suspects.


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