Thieves stole almost £1.5 million worth of vintage wine in a daring heist on a warehouse that supplies the Queen, before opening champagne inside the building to toast their success.
The Berry Bros & Rudd warehouse in Basingstoke, Hampshire, was burgled on 26 April with sources telling the Daily Mail that it had to be an “inside job” as thieves evaded lasers and multiple cameras to make off with bottles worth £1,000 each.
A subsequent investigation revealed how the thieves carefully manoeuvred CCTV cameras away from the action, before drilling a 4ft by 4ft hole into the wall and evading motion detection alarms once inside the building.
The group headed straight to the luxury section of the warehouse, forming a chain and passing hundreds of thousands pounds worth of French wine – including bottles of Chateau Latour and Chateau Mouton-Rothschild – between them and out of the building.
After completing the job, thieves reportedly celebrated their success by opening bottles of Moet & Chandon champagne.
“What I find staggering is that they then had a party to celebrate,” a source told the Daily Mail.
The anonymous individual maintained that the theft on the company, which has supplied the Queen’s household since the reign of George III, was an “impressive” inside job.
“The hole in the wall was cut in the perfect place. It was only inches below the laser security beam. You could not have picked a better spot,” they claimed.
The 10 best Champagnes
The 10 best Champagnes
1/10 Virginie T
Having worked under her father Claude for 21 years, Virginie Tattinger (known in France as the Princess of Champagne) has branched out on her own with this non-vintage brut. Rich, elegant and full of candied fruit flavours. £25.90, virginie-t.com
2/10 Sainsbury’s Blanc de Noirs Brut
This is what one might call a good all-rounder. You can serve it with leftover turkey or with salmon; drink it on its own or make champagne cocktail from it. The Pinot-noir-rich drink is a good friend to have around on New Year’s Eve. £20.99, sainsburys.co.uk
3/10 Veuve Monsigny Brut by Philizot Aldi
At under a tenner, an absolute steal. Chock-full of tiny bubbles, which spiral up the flute in golden spirals, dispensing flavours of lemon and honey as they go. It is smooth as unction, too, so you can drink it with worrying ease. £9.99, aldi.co.uk
4/10 Domaine Laurens Les Graimenous Cremant de Limoux 2011
So this is not strictly speaking a champagne. What it is, is an exceptionally good sparkling wine. It is made in Limoux, at the base of the Pyrenees, from a blend of chardonnay, chenin blanc, mauzac and pinot noir. The result is a forceful, invigorating drink. £13.95, robersonwine.com
5/10 Moët Grand Vintage 2004
The 70th Moët Grand Vintage is silkier than a night dress, which is quite an achievement since it has roughly half the sugar of most other brut champagnes. It is made of a third each of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier and is rich in peach, citrus and almond flavours. A classic. £35, tesco.com
6/10 Dom Perignon 2004
When this vintage was released in May, it sold in record-breaking quantities. And little wonder, it is a wonderfully robust wine, rich in brioche and white fruit flavours, made from 53 per cent pinot noir and 47 per cent Chardonnay. Outstandingly good. £109, ocado.com
7/10 Veuve Cliquot Demi-Sec White Label NV
Demi-sec champagnes are, to most British champagne-lovers, anathema. Many of us seem to think “half-dry” is a synonym for “sickly sweet”. Not so with this honeyed wine. It ploughs a pleasing furrow between sour and sugared – which makes it exceptionally versatile. As good with Roquefort as it with dessert. £36.90, tanners-wines.co.uk
8/10 M&S Oudinot Medium Dry
For “medium dry” read demi-sec here. Unlike some of its drier brethren, you can drink this merrily as an aperitif or with dinner. It is a flexible friend and has a £10 discount on its recommended price until the end of the month. £15 (with £10 discount), marksandspencer.com
9/10 Laurent-Perrier Rose
The undisputed king of rose champagne. It’s voluptuous bottle contains a stylish wine which is rich in strawberry and berry flavours. It is eminently drinkable (almost too drinkable) – especially if you prefer the sweeter side. £43.49, ocado.com
10/10 Comte de Brismand Brut
An uncomplicated fizz which is very easy-on-the-palate. It is mild, wholly lacking in bitterness and has some very pleasing lemon flavours to it. Perfect for a NYE house party. £13.99, lidl.co.uk
“And there are thousands of bottles inside, but they knew where to look,” the source claimed, adding that the thieves had gone straight for the best wines in the complex warehouse. In total it is believed that they made off with an estimated £1.38 million worth of alcohol.
Hampshire Police confirmed the investigation was on-going but that no arrests had been made.
A spokesperson for Berry Bros & Rudd, which opened in London in 1698, said they were working with police and had “further reinforced the already high levels of security and monitoring at our facilities.”