Wine crime is not just a summer problem in France

Warmer months see a rise in thefts from wine cellars - but criminals are looking for opportunities all year round

3 September 2019

Summer in France is a time for convivial evening apéro celebrations with friends and a bottle or two of chilled wine as the sun goes down.

Unfortunately, it is also a time for criminals to target wine cellars – and they are no longer confining themselves to the caves of noted wine producers or exclusive restaurants.

They are, increasingly, setting their sights on the less well-protected property of individual wine collectors.

Crimes against wine domaines are nothing new and occur year-round.

A year-long police investigation in 2014 eventually ended with the arrest and conviction of a 20-strong criminal gang that co-ordinated the theft and selling-on of high-end wines from 13 wine chateaux in the Bordeaux area.

Early last year, 320 bottles of vintage wine, worth some €400,000, were stolen from a restaurant on the shores of Lake Annecy. Some 250 were recovered two months after the break-in.

In each case, the wine was insured and the owners protected.

Private collectors, whose property is more at risk in the summer months according to crime statistics, can insure their cellar as part of a multi-risk home insurance contract.

It is also advised that they keep invoices in case of theft, and equip cellars with cameras, glass breakage detectors and an alarm connected to a phone.

One Parisian told journalists she had concealed an armoured door behind the simple wooden door of her cellar.

She said the aim was to give the impression there was nothing of value in it, but at the same time protect it from opportunistic thieves unlikely to be equipped to break through an armoured door.

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