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Thieves face prison after $650,000 wine heist

Two men who helped themselves to $650,000-worth of wine from a US warehouse on Thanksgiving Day have pleaded guilty to several counts of theft and burglary.

One of the defendants, 35-year-old Samuel Arby Harris, also pleaded guilty to attempted arson during a hearing at King County Superior Court (pictured) in Seattle, Washington State, yesterday (15 July).

Harris and his co-defendant, 36-year-old Luke A Thesing, face up to nine years and just over five-and-a-half years in prison respectively for stealing around 2,500 bottles of fine wine – worth an estimate $650,000 – from private storage lockers at Esquin Wine & Spirits last November.

Harris also pleaded guilty to stealing $250,000 of wine earlier that same year, from a woman who had hired him to build a cellar for her collection. A lot of that wine was sold on, police said.

During the Esquin burglary, which happened on Thanksgiving Day, the court heard that the men cut gas lines at the storage facility to try to start a fire that would cover their tracks.

A significant amount of the stolen wine was recovered less than a month later, after police acting on a tip-off searched a building within one mile of the crime scene.

The stolen wine was thought to have been kept in a temperature controlled room, although police said they believed the two defendants were ‘common thieves’ rather than wine experts.

Both men are due to be sentenced on 25 July. State prosecutors said they would push for a ‘top of the range sentence’.

Written by Chris Mercer

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