Thousands of bottles of Barolo wines have been stolen from wineries in Piedmont in recent months, prompting fears that an organised crime gang is targeting the area.

Burglars used the cover of darkness to steal around three thousand bottles of Barolo with an estimated market value of nearly 200,000 euros from the Cordero di Montezemolo winery in La Morra on 25 June.

Just over two weeks later, a similar burglary took place at the Armando Parusso winery in Monforte d’Alba. Wine was also stolen from Fontanafredda in December 2015.

It is another sign that rising global demand for fine wine has led to security concerns for wineries, merchants, restaurants and also collectors.

Other high profile fine wine thefts:

Alberto Cordero di Montezemolo told Decanter.com that he thought the recent Piedmont burglaries could be be connected.

‘I spoke to Marco Parusso when I heard [about what happened], because we are swimming in the same pool,’ he said. Police were still investigating the burglaries at the time of writing.

There were six or seven burglars in the raid on Cordero di Montezemolo.

They were caught on CCTV cameras at the winery, but it was too dark to see clearly and their faces were masked.

‘They broke a window going into the warehouse area which we use for labelling,’ said Alberto Cordero di Montezemolo, describing what he had seen on security camera footage.

‘Then they calmly and carefully went to four or five palettes of wines ready to be shipped and, one by one, just took the cases outside, back through the window.

‘The people outside started to take the cases round the back of the winery. It took them three hours to remove around 3,000 bottles. We are not sure what vehicles they had.’

Wines taken included Barolo 2012 and Barbera d’Alba Superiore Funtanì 2013. They were worth a total of €100,000 to the winery, but would have an estimated market value of double that once tax and retail mark-ups were added in, Alberto said.

He speculated that the wines could have been stolen to order and said the burglars must have put the winery under watch in advance, because ‘they used the only window with no alarm system’.

He added that he would probably install more security cameras, but there were limits.

‘We have 18 cameras, but to cover every single point we would need 40. If they want to come [to steal], they will come.’

He asked the trade in Europe to be vigilant.

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