Italian wine targeted in thefts in San Francisco
A neighbourhood in the US city of San Francisco has suffered a recent spate of wine thefts, and it appears the criminals have a taste for fine Italian wine.
As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, a number of premises have been targeted in the Russian Hill area. These include wine bar Habibi Bar. The owners told SFC that 65 bottles worth US$2,253.43 were taken, mostly comprising bottles of Barolo and Barbaresco.
Nearby Biondivino, a specialist Italian wine shop, also had an attempted break-in the week before. Security footage shows the thieves trying to open the store’s door with a crowbar before using a blowtorch on a window.
The two recent incidents follow a similar heist in the area last year at the William Cross Wine Merchants. Owner Steven Sherman told SFC that “a sizeable amount” of wine was taken, including all of the Brunello and a lot of the Barolo.
Habibi Bar and William Cross both told SFC that the thieves were specifically targeting certain bottles of wine, and left other valuables, including laptops and iPads, untouched.
While many of the bottles taken were priced at well over US$100 a bottle, some were also sold on allocation, meaning once they’re gone, they cannot be replaced.
“Some of those Barolos we’ll never get again,” co-owner Essam Kardosh of Habibi Bar told SFC.
It follows the dismantling of a Burgundy wine theft ring in France in February. Police in France recovered over 1,000 bottles of stolen wine and arrested 10 people in connection with two separate burglaries at estates in the French region last year.
France has seen a rash of fine wine heists in recent years. A recent incident saw French gendarmes chasing thieves down the motorway while being pelted with stolen bottles of grands crus. High-end Parisian wine retailer Les Caves de Taillevent was also hit towards the end of last year, with the burglars using a rod to ‘fish’ out €50,000 worth of wine from the store.