Vintage wine worth almost £1.5million has been stolen from the Royal Family’s supplier by thieves who broke into a warehouse and crawled under laser beams – before opening champagne to celebrate.
Using tactics often seen in Hollywood heist movies, the gang put a ladder against the side of the building to turn CCTV cameras the other way.
They then used power tools to cut a 4ft by 4ft hole in the wall before crawling under the motion sensors which run along the side of the warehouse and trigger an alarm if they detect movement.
After evading the beams, they used wine crates as ladders to climb up to the level where the most valuable vintages are stored.
For 3 hours they formed a chain and passed wooden cases worth around £5,000 each along the floor before pushing them through the hole and stacking them in their van.
French wines from Chateau Latour, which are worth up to £1,000 a bottle, and Chateau Mouton-Rothschild were among those taken from the warehouse in Basingstoke, Hampshire. The thieves opened bottles of Moet & Chandon inside the warehouse belonging to Berry Bros & Rudd to celebrate their success, it was said.
Thursday, sources said the raid ‘had to be an inside job’ because the thieves had an intimate knowledge of the warehouse and its security systems.
‘They knew which way the CCTV cameras were facing and either avoided them or climbed a ladder to move them,’ a source said. ‘And the hole in the wall was cut in the perfect place. It was only inches below the laser security beam. You could not have picked a better spot.’ One source told how the thieves located a hidden security camera inside the building and ‘adjusted’ it so that it would not capture images of the raid.
‘There are members of staff who have worked at the warehouse for years who didn’t know that camera existed,’ he said. ‘That’s impressive inside knowledge.
‘And there are thousands of bottles inside, but they knew where to look. The crates are stacked from Level A to Level F. They went straight to Level B where the best wines are.
‘What I find staggering is that they then had a party to celebrate.’
The burglary at the warehouse, which contains both wine for retail and wine which the company stores for customers, took place in the early hours of the day.
The value of the stolen wine is believed to be £1.38million. Hampshire Police confirmed that no arrests have been made and said the ‘investigation is ongoing’.
Berry Bros & Rudd opened in St James’s Street, London, in 1698 and has supplied wines to the Royal Family since the reign of George III.
A spokesman said:
‘We continue to work with the police and our security advisers to prevent any incidents from happening again, and have further reinforced the already high levels of security and monitoring at our facilities.’