Video shows vandal in cowboy hat emptying $600,000 worth of wine from vats at family vineyard

Police still seeking suspect, who entered storage area by apparently using an employee code

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Friday 08 December 2023 18:49 GMT
<p>The break-in caused $600,000 worth of damage at Washington state’s Sparkman Cellars</p>

The break-in caused $600,000 worth of damage at Washington state’s Sparkman Cellars

Police in Washington state are looking for a masked person in a cowboy hat who broke into a family winery in November and caused $600,000 worth of damage by emptying 5,000 gallons of wine out of storage tanks.

In surveillance footage aired on local media outlets, the suspect, who was also wearing a poncho, approaches the Sparkman Cellars winery at 7.34 the night before Thanksgiving.

The bandit appears to have entered the facility, which is in Woodinville, a city northeast of Seattle, using an employee code on a pinpad, according to the King County Sheriff’s Office.

Security footage then shows the individual walking through storage area later that night, around 10.34, and then a massive torrent of wine pouring from storage tanks minutes later.

Police are still looking for the suspect in the bizarre break-in

All told, the flow continued for at least 9 minutes, KOMO reports.

The person was later seen on security footage exiting the building holding an umbrella and heading into a wooded area.

"This is a tough blow for our small family business and was timed to deliver maximum damage right as the holidays get under way,” the winery told Fox 13 Seattle in a statement. “Our team has remained steadfast and focused in the face of this unimaginable crime. We remain committed to delivering superb wines to all our customers and are grateful for the extraordinary outpouring of support from our community of wineries, restaurants, retailers, and wine lovers."

Those with potential information about the break-in are encouraged to alert the Woodinville Police Department or King County Sheriff’s Office.

There is a $1,000 reward for information via Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound.

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