The Pinot Noir Wine Thief

The Santa Barbara Independent has dubbed a Las Vegas schoolteacher a “bold blonde bandit.” Her crime? The successful theft of over twenty cases of pricey Pinot Noir from the World of Pinot Noir’s grand tasting on March 4th at the Bacara Resort. With Ocean’s 11-like precision, the grape thief wheeled her score out of the tasting — as the gathered winemakers looked on.

Here’s how the crime went down:

Dressed in a black and white shirt, the woman took two luggage racks into the grand ballroom, loaded up more than 20 cases of expensive wine likely worth more than $10,000, and covered them with linens. She then moved quickly toward the exit, met two men in a Toyota Tacoma truck waiting in the valet line, and took off with the stolen loot.

The woman strategically gathered the wine as the tasting event shut down for the evening, with winemakers thinking she was a Bacara representative and Bacara people believing she was with a winery.

Surveillance photo of the suspected wine thief via The Independent
Surveillance photo of the suspected wine thief via The Independent

When a few of the winemakers suspected that something was amiss, the Las Vegas native did what you’d expect. She bluffed:

“A couple people asked if their missing wine was on the cart, because she also had linens over the boxes, but she assured people it was absolutely not their wine.”

The perfect crime? Not so fast:

Due to surveillance footage, Renaud — who is president of the WOPN event, which many simply call “whoppin’” — identified the alleged culprit as a schoolteacher who lives in Las Vegas. Renaud has since presented all of the evidence — including name, birth date, phone number, address, footage of the crime, and corroborating information, such as eyewitnesses and social media posts of the woman wearing the same outfit at a different event — to the S.B. County Sheriff’s Office.

It turns out she’s just someone who really loves her wine:

In fact, one of the wineries involved recognized her as one of their club members who was suspected of recently stealing a bottle of wine.

Like any good a heist story, there’s one more twist — she might just get away with it after all.

Renaud said the Sheriff’s Office accepted the evidence and was weighing whether to pursue an arrest in the case, which would involve extradition from Nevada. “They didn’t leave me with a great feeling that they would pursue this,” said Renaud, as the department gives greater priority to crimes against people over property crimes.