Two men accused of stealing more than $600,000 worth of high-end wine from a Seattle retailer and storage facility last week went to great lengths to cover up their heist, police say.
The two men entered Esquin Wine & Spirits in Sodo on Nov. 27 and spray-painted the lenses of surveillance cameras and disabled motion sensors by placing plastic bags over them, police said. Then, after stealing more than 200 cases of wine in nine separate trips the next day, they tampered with two gas lines, releasing gas into the building in an attempt to cause an explosion, police said.
However, police say the pair missed one camera, which captured images that led to the arrest Monday of one suspect, a 34-year-old Seattle man. He is being held in King County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bail on investigation of burglary and arson.
Seattle police said they are still looking for his accomplice — and the wine.
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Dan Miller, a spokesman for Esquin Wine & Spirits, said Wednesday the company is offering $20,000 for information that leads to the “safe recovery of the wine.”
According to a police report, the break-in was discovered Friday when an Esquin building manager smelled gas and called 911. A utility worker with Puget Sound Energy (PSE) told police two gas lines had been intentionally damaged and a gas-powered heater had been lit.
A PSE employee told police that if the gas had reached the flame it could have caused a “massive explosion and fire.”
After reviewing security images, police determined the pair spent 13 hours carting off wine valued at $648,000.
They also learned the 34-year-old suspect had rented a storage unit using his correct name and address on Oct. 10, police said. When the suspect was arrested at his home, police said they found a list of wines, descriptions of them and correspondence with a San Francisco wine consultant.
Christine Clarridge can be reached at 206-464-8983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Times reporter Jennifer Sullivan and news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.