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French police chase stops €600,000 Champagne theft

Police prevented a large-scale theft of Moët & Chandon Champagne following a motorway chase that saw one of the suspected thieves jump from a moving lorry into an adjacent car, French media reports have said.

French police reportedly moved quickly to thwart the attempted theft of Moët & Chandon Champagne with a value of nearly €600,000 (£524,000) last weekend.

It’s the latest example of fine wine being targeted by thieves, and Christmas is a key period for Champagne sales.

Two lorry-loads of Moët & Chandon were stolen from the Reims area in the heart of the Champagne region overnight on 11 November, according to French media reports.

Having been alerted at 9am the next morning, police were able to use a GPS tracker in one of the trailers to locate the thieves’ route, said Le Parisien newspaper. 

Police then pursued the lorries on the ‘Francilienne’, a partial ring road in Île-de-France on the outskirts of Paris.

In a scene that appeared reminiscent of a Hollywood film, one of the drivers reportedly opened the cab door whilst the lorry was still moving and then jumped into a BMW car that had pulled up alongside.  

An unnamed source cited by Le Parisien added that the lorry had been forced onto the hard shoulder and was moving relatively slowly at the time – around 15 km / h (nine miles per hour). 

In the end, police were able to trap the lorries and recover the stolen Champagne, but the thieves themselves managed to escape.

News of the theft comes around a month after French media reported that three suspected fraudsters were arrested in relation to allegations that they attempted to buy fine wines with €95,000 of fake bank notes.

The scammers had managed to get several bottles, including Petrus 2000, from a merchant near to Paris around eight months prior to their arrest, it was reported.

Fine wine theft and fraud are hardly new, but some industry experts believe the rising value of the world’s most precious bottles has made them a more alluring target for thieves.

Earlier this year, two people were sentenced to prison in Spain for stealing fine wines from Michelin-starred Atrio restaurant and hotel.

They checked-out with hundreds of thousands of euros-worth of wine in backpacks after managing to steal the venue’s wine cellar key from reception during the night.


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