Organized Thieves With Taste for Champagne Target 3 Publix Stores in Palm Coast
FlaglerLive | September 27, 2016
Three times in a single day last week, thieves working in concert struck at three different Palm Coast Publix stores to steal wines and champagnes. They’ve been getting away with plenty of both, in one case stealing nearly $3,000 worth of bottles.
They either have excellent taste or know what may sell on the black market: a third of their haul from one store was made up of 18 bottles of Veuve Cliquot, one of the finest and oldest–and most expensive–French champagnes on the market, along with various kinds of Moet, also an authentic French champagne.
The thieves first struck at the Town Center Publix at 800 Belle Terre Parkway at about 4:30 p.m. A store employee told sheriff’s deputies that three individuals had entered the store and stolen $600 worth of champagnes and wines. The list of items stolen was not included in the incident report, as it was in a subsequent report, but the time-line on the report lists the thefts as occurring from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., based on surveillance video.
The thieves then made their way to the Island Walk (formerly Palm Harbor) Publix, where they started taking items off the shelves at around 5:45 p.m. They struck a third time at the Publix on Palm Coast Parkway and Belle Terre at 6:30 p.m. that same evening, but did not get away with much there.Publix did not report the thefts to the sheriff’s office until four days later, when the pattern became obvious and surveillance video appeared to show the same suspects committing each crime.
An employee at the Island Walk store told 53-year-old store manager Shelton Walker of empty shelves in the wine department when Walker arrived at the store last Friday. Shelton reviewed surveillance tape and discovered that the previous day at 5:47 p.m., three people were removing bottles from the shelves and hiding them in six of the store’s own reusable bags–which the thieves had also stolen: the bags cost $1 each–or under their clothes and walking out. They did so several times.
They managed to get away with 47 bottles in all–Veuve Cliquot, Moet Imperial, Moet Imperial Brut, Moet Brut Rose, Moet Nectar Imperial, and so on. They got hungry along the way: they also stole an eight-piece fried-chicken meal. The total value of the merchandise added up to the pre-tax cost of $2,848.
The theft at the Belle Terre and Palm Coast Parkway store was not as successful as at the other two stores. There, a store official told cops he “confronted a Hispanic male (approximately 6’01” with dark hair) as he was exiting the store in possession of a bag containing bottles of wine not purchased,” according to dispatch notes from the sheriff’s office. The store official said the man “fled the scene, at which time the a [Hispanic] female (wearing dark blue ‘scrubs’) attempted to leave as well.” The store official said he attempted to prevent the woman from leaving the store by standing in her path, but she pushed past him. An undetermined amount of merchandise was recovered in that case.
The three cases had not yet been assigned to detectives as of Tuesday afternoon, a sheriff’s spokesperson said. Images and video from footage Publix turned over to the sheriff’s office were requested for publication, but were not yet available, the spokesperson said.
If you have any information about these subjects or the Publix thefts please call Detective Joe Costello at 386-586-4897 or email: email@example.com