Armed with only his big-boy pants and a thirst for Napa’s finest bottles, a Florida man has been sowing chaos in wine shops around the southwestern corner of his state with a string of brazen yet simple thefts. Rather than opting for more attention-getting wine-pilfering methods, like, say, jumping onto a moving tanker of wine, the suspect allegedly stuffed $800 worth of wine from a Total Wine & More in Estero, Fla., down his pants—seven bottles on three separate trips. Another local wine shop owner has seen some $2,000 worth of wine vanish from her shop in recent weeks as well, and security video footage shows a man of similar appearance performing the telltale wine-to-waistline trick.
At Tony’s Off Third, a wine shop in Naples, Fla., it all started when a bottle of Opus One went missing on May 30. “My manager was walking by that section and he noticed that our Opus One had gone from five bottles to four bottles,” owner Sukie Honeycutt recounted to Unfiltered. “He checked our [point-of-sale] system and saw we had not sold any that day.”
Honeycutt checked her surveillance footage and saw a man grab a bottle from the Opus display, check his surroundings, then slip the bottle down his pants. She went back and checked her inventory and sales to find that more wine had been stolen in previous weeks.
“He was coming in every Saturday between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.,” Honeycutt said. “There was one time he took a magnum of Nickel & Nickel, and another time when he actually stuffed three bottles down his pants: a Caymus, a Far Niente Cab and a Shafer Hillside Select.” Growing bolder (but mindful of wearing PPE), the scofflaw even operated in shorts. Honeycutt's theory is that the thief employed his Florida-honed ingenuity to equip his trousers with some sort of sturdy bag to hold the weight. She calculates $2,000 in retail value was stolen.
Two Naples police detectives conducted a stakeout at Tony’s, but the man had gotten ahead. A few weeks after the Opus bottle went missing, a similar-looking man lifted $800 worth of wine from the Total Wine & More in Estero. His M.O.? Three trips, seven bottles, two legs. “We’re 90 percent sure he’s the same person,” Honeycutt told Unfiltered. “And the methodology points to that too.”
According to a Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers Facebook post, the alleged Total Wine thief was finally apprehended and arrested on June 15 (at a Total Wine), and Honeycutt plans to press charges and pursue reimbursement. “I hate to give him credit,” she said. “But this was a pretty ingenious way of stealing wine."
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