24th June 2024
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Couple jailed for 4 years in Spain over ‘meticulously planned’ €1.6m wine theft

A court in Cáceres (Extremadura) on Monday jailed a couple for stealing 45 bottles of wine worth over €1.6 million from a hotel restaurant, in what police described as a ‘meticulously planned’ theft.

A bottle of Chateau D’Yquem 1806 worth €350,000 was among the wines stolen from the Atrio restaurant-hotel in Cáceres in October 2021, in the heist which made global headlines. ALSO READ: Mexican beauty queen & partner arrested for theft of wine worth €1.6m from Spanish restaurant.

A court in Cáceres sentenced the woman to four years in jail and the man to four and a half years, after finding them guilty of burglary with forced entry.

The court also ordered the pair — who were arrested in July 2022 in Croatia – to pay compensation of €753,454 to the hotel.

The woman, who according to Spanish press reports is a former Mexican beauty queen, checked into the hotel using a fake Swiss passport, the court said in a statement. She was initially carrying only a backpack that, when handled briefly by a hotel employee, was found to not be carrying any weight.

According to the court statement, a man later showed up to have dinner with the woman and he then stayed without registering, at the hotel. After dinner in the restaurant, the couple had a guided tour of the Atrio’s renowned wine cellars before they retired to their room.

At 2am the woman called the reception and asked the ‘sole employee’ who was working at the time to make her a salad, according to the court ruling.

The employee at first denied the request because he was alone and because the couple had eaten a 14-course tasting menu, but he ended up agreeing because she kept insisting. She also insisted on knowing how long it would take him to prepare the food.

While the employee was preparing the salad, the man slipped into reception and stole an electronic key which he thought would gain entry to the wine cellar but it was the wrong one.

From outside the wine cellar the man called his partner and told her once again to distract the receptionist, so she requested a dessert.

‘The accused returned to the reception and from a box he took master key number 27, which he used to open the wine cellar from where he took 45 bottles of wine,’ the court said.

The man, who reportedly has Romanian and Dutch citizenship, carried the bottles to his room in a rucksack and two large bags before the receptionist returned to his post.

The couple left the hotel in a hurry at around 5am, with the man carrying the backpack and two other bags with the wine bottles, in which he had inserted four towels from the bathroom of the hotel room to prevent them from rattling. Nine months later they were arrested in Croatia.

The couple had ‘meticulously planned’ the heist, visiting the restaurant three times to prepare the raid, Spain’s National Police said in a statement when the pair were arrested.

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