Napa Valley Man Arrested for Stealing $400,000 in Wine

By Matthew Foster

Mar 20, 2014 2:04pm
HT jose luis pina jtm 140320 16x9 608 Napa Valley Man Arrested for Stealing $400,000 in Wine

Jose Luis Pina was arrested Tuesday for allegedly stealing $400,000 in wine. (American Canyon Police Department)

In the heart of California’s wine country, a crime with notes of intrigue and a hint of mystery.

Jose Luis Pina, 31, is accused of stealing about 350 cases of wine, and was arrested Tuesday for grand theft, possession of stolen property and burglary, police said.

Those cases are worth more than $400,000, according to the American Canyon Police Department.

Pina is an employee of the warehouse the wine was taken from, Police Chief Tracey Stuart said in an email to ABCNews.com. Police first suspected an inside job when they didn’t see any indications of a break-in, she said.

“Due to no signs of forced entry and due to the large amount of wine stolen, the investigation turned towards employees being responsible,” Stuart said.

The Valley Wine Warehouse — located at the address listed by police as the scene of the crime — declined to comment due to the ongoing investigation when reached by ABCNews.com.

In perhaps the most surprising turn of events, police said more than $73,000 in cash was found at Pina’s apartment, and they believe this money is the result of black market wine sales.

The timeline of these black market wine sales will need to be investigated to see how many people are involved, Stuart said.

“Some of the wine has made it onto retail shelves and we’re looking into how that happened,” she said.

Stuart was unable to comment further because the case is still part of an ongoing investigation.

In what appears to be a goof by a person involved in the theft, police said the crime was first discovered when a licensed wine broker became suspicious of someone offering the stolen goods for sale. The broker contacted the winery to find out if the seller was legitimate, police said.

“The winery then contacted the warehouse, where the wine that was being offered for sale was being stored. The warehouse staff were unable to locate the wine and reported the theft,” Stuart said in a news release.

 

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