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High-speed police chase foils £500k Champagne heist

Two stolen lorries containing £525,000 worth of Moët & Chandon have been intercepted following a police chase on a French motorway.

On Saturday 11 November two trucks loaded with Champagne were thieved from an unnamed distribution company. According to Le Parisien newspaper, the stolen bottles were Moët & Chandon, and the combined loads were worth an estimated €600,000 (£525,000).

Thanks to tracking devices fitted to the lorries local police were able to trace the vehicles to the A4 motorway linking Reims with Paris.

What ensued was a high-speed chase to retrieve the stolen goods, which saw two police cars succeed in forcing the lorries to slow down. However, the driver of one of the trucks leapt out of the moving vehicle into a saloon car that had been following the convoy, and escaped.

The second lorry was later intercepted, but again, without the driver.

All bottles of Moët & Chandon have been recovered intact. Parent company and luxury goods giant LVMH has yet to release a statement regarding the incident.

Criminals are increasingly targeting high-end wine and Champagne brands, with several major instances taking place this year alone.

In June, thieves stole US$700,000 worth of Bordeaux and Burgundy from a Californian fine wine retailer by cutting a hole in the ceiling above the cellar. The owner of Lincoln Fine Wines in Los Angeles offered a US$10,000 reward for information about the theft and vowed to send a list of all the stolen wines, some of which were valued at more than US$5,000 apiece, to global auction houses so they could identify the missing bottles.

In March, two thieves were jailed for four and a half years each after pulling off “the wine heist of the century”. The pair, named as Priscila Guevara and Constantín Dumitru, lifted an astonishing £1.3 million worth of wine from the Michelin-starred Atrio restaurant in Spain, including a bottle of 1806 Château d’Yquem.

The UK had its own incident when in January “a sophisticated scam” saw a delivery driver for logistics firm ICT Express forge signatures to steal £12,000 worth of wine destined for department store Selfridges in Birmingham.

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