French Police Bust Burgundy Wine Theft Network

Authorities recovered about 40 percent of the bottles taken during two separate break-ins last year.

France's Burgundy region produces some of the priciest wines in the world. For proof, look no further than the literal most expensive bottle of wine ever sold. So when thieves make off with even a small number of Burgundy bottles, the losses can pile up quickly. Back in December, French police recovered a mere 900 bottles of wine worth—astoundingly—$6 million.

A more recent Burgundy raid wasn't quite as lucrative—with authorities recovering about 1,160 bottles probably worth closer to $50,000. Still, that's far from pocket change—and ten people were reportedly arrested, hopefully putting a dent in further wine crime in the area.

Wine bootles from cellar in selective focus
Gregory_DUBUS/Getty Images

On February 24, 60 police officers from three regions of France were involved in raids in two separate cities—Lyon and Toulouse—according to The Drinks Business. In the end, beyond arresting many of the culprits, officials believe they were able to recover about 40 percent of the bottles stolen across two separate thefts: In July, Domaine Philippe Chavy in Puligny-Montrachet reportedly had about 2,000 of their best bottles—worth about $95,000 in total—stolen directly out of their wine store; and in October, Domaine Sangouard-Guyot in Vergisson apparently had 850 bottles of mostly Pouilly-Fuissé wine worth around $12,000 swiped. Both crimes were said to be similar in that the clearly-organized thieves meticulously attempted to cover their track with cleaning products.

"The investigations made it possible to identify a major wine stealing sector," the authorities said in announcing the bust, according to Le Bien Public, adding that the second batch of stolen wines from October was actually "identified and linked to the initial investigation," meaning the police's score was even bigger than anticipated. "The main receivers will be brought to justice," the police added.

At the time of the first theft in July, the Chavys spoke out about how devastating losing 2,000 bottles can be for a small producer. "I would like to tell [the thieves] that we are not rich. All of this also serves to pay our employees and represents orders from loyal customers," co-owner Graziella Chavy told France Bleu. "There is little hope of finding these bottles … but if you come across a 2018 lot from the Chavy estate, sold hand to hand, do not hesitate to notify the police."

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