Thieves using a harvesting machine have stolen the entire crop of a Languedoc-Roussillon vineyard.
Grower Roland Cavaille his vineyards in Villeneuve-les-Beziers were targetted on Sunday night. Thieves took advantage of a full moon, and used a harvesting machine to steal 30 tonnes of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.
The farmer was not insured against the loss of his grapes, which estimates have suggested would have taken 6-8 hours to harvest.
He told Le Parisien newspaper he was baffled. ‘They used a harvesting machine to gather grapes. This means there was no need to have lots of people; two people would have been enough.’
‘The area was quite isolated; it is a few kilometres from the village and near a river. So the thieves were able to work safely.’
He said that the theft amounted to a year’s work and about €15,000 (£12,900).
Mr Cavaille added that the perpetrators were clearly professionals who could easily sell on the grapes.
According to the French press, the police believe the culprits to be rival winemakers.
Cavaille said there had been a similar grape theft reported in the Languedoc four years ago and that another complaint had also been filed this year.
Police are continuing their investigations.
Written by James Lawrence