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LA police hunt wine shop thieves after major heist

A Los Angeles fine wine retailer targeted by thieves, who sawed through the roof of its cellar room and stole precious bottles thought to be worth at least $500,000, has said a police investigation was ongoing and thanked customers for their support.

Top Bordeaux, Burgundy and California wines were among those taken after thieves broke into the cellar room at Lincoln Fine Wines in the Venice neighbourhood of Los Angeles.

After cutting a square hole in the cellar room’s roof, burglars escaped with wines and spirits estimated to be worth at least $500,000 to $550,000, and possibly more, said Nick Martinelle, wine buyer and manager at the retailer.

He said most of the stolen stock had been identified, but the team was still discovering wines as missing. Some of the bottles taken are irreplaceable, having been purchased years ago, he told Decanter.

The retailer said Los Angeles police was investigating the burglary, which offers further evidence that fine and rare wines are a target for thieves.

Those breaking into Lincoln Fine Wines’ cellar room focused on higher-priced labels, such as Bordeaux first, second and third growths, Burgundy grand cru wines, and top Rhône and California labels.

Thieves also took large-format bottles, targeting the retailer’s collection of celebrated Italian wine Quintarelli, among others. They appeared to have hoisted a 15-litre bottle of Billecart-Salmon Brut Champagne up to the roof, said Martinelle via email.

‘It is all very surreal to us. As a close-knit, small group we feel violated,’ he said.

‘Our boss and owner of the store, Nazmul Haque, has had this establishment for over 16 years. Never in his life did he – or anyone else in this wine community – think that this could happen on this level, let alone with the precision of a Mission Impossible-type heist.’

Martinelle has sent out lists to trade members, including auction houses, and said he was optimistic that something might turn up.

He said the thieves might have had a plan for offloading the wines, ‘but perhaps they aren’t that smart and will try to sell to a store or auction house at some point’. He said he couldn’t comment further, however, due to the ongoing police investigation.

On Instagram, Lincoln Fine Wines recently thanked its customers for their support and affirmed it was open for business as usual as it looks to ‘move forward and upward’ from the burglary.

‘We are still devastated, but we are moving on as best we can,’ said Martinelle. The retailer asked anyone with information to get in touch or contact police.

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