Thieves allegedly tried to burn building in effort to hide $600k wine heist

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SEATTLE — One of two suspects is under arrest for allegedly trying to burn down a South Seattle wine shop and storage facility last week in an effort to cover up their theft of more than $600,000 worth of wine, police said.

According to police, two suspects slipped into Esquin Wine Merchants, a privately owned wine storage unit, in the 2700 block of 4th Avenue South on Nov. 29. The storage locker housed more than 450 temperature-controlled wine storage lockers.

Police said the suspects spray-painted security cameras before spending more than 13 hours carting off 200 cases of wine, estimated at a $648,000 value. When the suspects finished carting the wine to a car, they allegedly cut two gas lines in the shop’s ceiling and tried to light the storage unit and corresponding shop ablaze. However, the gas failed to ignite and a building manager called 911 when he smelled gas the next day.

Firefighters called to the scene shut off the gas and recognized the lockers had been burglarized, police said.

After a few sober moments, wine shop staff used a security camera that was not sprayed to identify the suspects as two who had previously rented a storage locker at the address. The wine crooks had previously left their home address while renting a storage locker.

Police located and arrested one suspect Monday and are currently searching for the other.

The wine has not yet been located, police said.

On Wednesday, Esquin Wine Merchants said it was offering a $20,000 reward for the safe recovery of the stolen wine.  It asked that anyone with information about the case should contact the Seattle Police Department.

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