Dutchman arrested for stealing €1.7m worth of exclusive wine from the basement of a Spanish restaurant abroad

A former Mexican beauty queen and complicit Romanian-Dutch partner have been arrested in Croatia for stealing 45 exclusive bottles of wine worth €1.7 million in Spain. Spanish police reported this after nine months of searching across Europe.

The 29-year-old is said to have distracted staff at the popular hotel restaurant El Atrio in the western Spanish city of Caceres in October last year by ordering room service when the kitchen of the two-Michelin-star restaurant was closed. Meanwhile, her 47-year-old companion sneaked into the wine cellar, opened it with a key he had stolen during a previous visit, and filled three backpacks with expensive bottles.

One bottle contained a unique 19th century Bordeaux wine (Château d’Yquem) worth €310,000. Spanish police speak in a statement about a “carefully planned” theft. The woman booked a hotel room with a false Swiss ID. The two had visited El Atrio three times before and, like many guests, toured the wine cellar.

A wine thief leaves the restaurant with expensive bottles © via Reuters

While the woman was distracting the closed kitchen employee from the food ordered, the Roman Dutchman wrapped wine bottles in hotel towels in the cellar. With one bag on his back and two in each hand, he returned to the room.

Still looking for bottles

The couple left the hotel at 5:30 in the morning and left Spain a few days later. They were eventually identified by Croatian border guards when they arrived from Montenegro. Spanish police cooperated with colleagues in the Netherlands, Croatia and Romania and with Interpol to arrest them. Spain asked Croatia to hand them over. The stolen wine bottles have yet to be recovered.

The Romanian-Dutch suspect comes out of the wine cellar with three bags

The Romanian-Dutch suspect comes out of the wine cellar with three bags © via Reuters

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Denton Watson

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