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An LA Thief Cut a Hole In Store Roof and Stole $600,000 of Fine Wine. 'Like Something Out of 'Ocean's Eleven.' The wine crime was one of the largest in California's history.

By Jonathan Small

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Lincoln Fine Wines

In a scene that could have been ripped from a Hollywood heist movie, a discerning thief with a nose for fine wine cut a hole above the wine cellar of an exclusive Venice, California wine store, dropped down into the dark room, and stole 800 bottles of wine valued at $600,000.

"It was like something out of 'Ocean's Eleven.' We just couldn't believe it," Nick Martinelle, the store manager of Lincoln Fine Wines, told CNN.

Now Los Angeles police are looking for the Burgundy burglar who they say worked with at least one other accomplice.

"We suspect there may be a person that is getting the wine handed down to them off the rooftop and possibly a getaway driver," Los Angeles Police Department Det. Joel Twycross told the Los Angeles Times. "It is evident that this was planned for a while, and a lot of effort was put into mapping out how to evade getting caught."

Photo courtesy of Tristar Investigation

Not a job for amateurs

Investigators believe whoever committed this crime knew what they were looking for and planned it out in advance.

Grainy surveillance video captured a man dressed in all black wearing a red-billed baseball cap stealing the booty. He appears to be taking instructions from someone on a cell phone. The theft took about 3 1/2 hours as the burglar methodically went through each bottle of wine to choose only the best vintage.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the stolen items included about 75 bottles that retailed for over $1,000. Some hot ticket items include a bottle of Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve Champagne in an uncommonly large, 15-liter format known as a Nebuchadnezzar.

"This is an extraordinary list," wine consultant Melissa Smith told the Times. "A lot of them are things collectors would want in their possession."

The store's owner agrees. Nazmul Haque Helal, who has owned Lincoln's Fine Wines for years, told the Times that the robber passed over some California wines to target a few French rarities from the Bordeaux and Burgundy regions.

"It is very hard for me to digest. All my hard work snatched within a couple hours," Haque Helal told CNN.

Related: An Iconic New York City Wine Store Is Facing a Criminal Investigation

Jonathan Small

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

Founder, Write About Now Media

Jonathan Small is an award-winning author, journalist, producer, and podcast host. For 25 years, he has worked as a sought-after storyteller for top media companies such as The New York Times, Hearst, Entrepreneur, and Condé Nast. He has held executive roles at Glamour, Fitness, and Entrepreneur and regularly contributes to The New York Times, TV Guide, Cosmo, Details, Maxim, and Good Housekeeping. He is the former “Jake” advice columnist for Glamour magazine and the “Guy Guru” at Cosmo.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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