In a peculiar case of theft, a Spanish court has issued a guilty verdict.

May 14, 2024 in Travel & Destinations by Charlotte Sinclair

Mexican beauty queen

In October 2021, criminals stole 45 bottles of wine worth €1.6 million from the luxurious hotel and three-star Michelin restaurant Atrio in the city of Cáceres, western Spain.

How did they pull it off? Mexican beauty queen Priscilla Lara Guevara and her Dutch-Romanian partner Constantin Dumitru meticulously planned the heist, staying at the hotel three times. On the fateful evening, Guevara checked into Atrio with a fake Swiss passport, carrying no luggage but a large backpack, while Dumitru joined her for dinner at the restaurant. They ordered a 14-course tasting menu and later joined a tour of the wine cellar. Around 2 AM, the woman called the reception and requested a salad and dessert. The lone staff member at the lobby had to leave his post to fulfill the order. This was the moment Dumitru stole the electronic key to the cellar.

At 5 AM, they left the hotel with two bags containing 45 bottles, carefully wrapped in hotel towels to prevent clinking. Among their loot were two bottles of Chateau d'Yquem: one from 1806, listed at €350,000 on the menu, and another from 1883, priced at €45,000. The stolen bottles were never recovered, but the thieves were arrested at the Croatian-Montenegrin border in July 2022. The restaurant received €753,000 in insurance compensation (presumably the wholesale value of the wine collection), and the court ordered the accused to pay this amount, along with a 4-year prison sentence.

Interestingly, the couple was convicted on circumstantial evidence: a fake passport, missing towels from their room, and the thieves' DNA in the room. However, the actual theft of the cellar was not recorded as there were no cameras installed. Additionally, the court dismissed the defense lawyer's argument that 45 bottles could not fit into two bags and a backpack. This, in turn, provides the accused with good grounds for an appeal.

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