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Originally published December 9, 2013 at 11:01 PM | Page modified December 10, 2013 at 1:06 PM

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Second suspect held in heist of more than $600,000 of wine

The men are each being held in lieu of $500,000 bail in connection with the Thanksgiving Day heist of wine valued from Esquin Wine & Spirits in Seattle’s Sodo neighborhood.


Seattle Times staff reporter

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King County prosecutors on Monday charged a second man in connection with the Thanksgiving Day heist of wine valued at more than $600,000 from Esquin Wine & Spirits in Seattle.

Luke Thesing, 35, was arrested late Friday at his Northgate apartment and is now charged with attempted first-degree arson, second-degree burglary and second-degree theft — the same charges filed last week against his alleged accomplice, Samuel Harris, 34. Thesing works as a plumber for Harris’ plumbing company, charging papers say.

The men are each being held in lieu of $500,000 bail. Their arraignments are set for Dec. 19. The charges against Harris and Thesing make no mention of police recovering any of the wine.

The two men are accused of disabling motion detectors, spray-painting over surveillance cameras, sawing through plasterboard to access vintages in private storage lockers, and carting them away over 13 hours in a rented truck, charges say. They are also accused of tampering with gas lines that could have caused a big explosion had the gas reached an open flame, charging papers say.

Despite efforts to cover up the theft, one of the Esquin cameras wasn’t completely painted over and employees at the wine facility were able to identify Harris, who used his name and address on forms to rent a wine-storage unit, charging papers say.

The identity of his alleged accomplice, however, remained a mystery until last week, according to charging papers. Police found receipts to home-improvement stores among Harris’ belongings when he was booked, according to charging papers.

Based on the dates and times on those receipts, detectives were able to get surveillance footage from a Lowe’s store on Rainier Avenue South, which showed Harris and Thesing purchasing supplies, the papers say.

Detectives also found a journal in which Harris outlined “The Plan” to rip off Esquin, and charging papers say both Harris and Thesing planned to flee the country after selling the stolen wine.

A shipping label found in Harris’ wine-storage locker led detectives to a San Francisco wine consultant, who told police he purchased $100,000 of wine from Harris and another man in April or May, charging papers say. Through an online search, Detective Don Jones determined there’d been a large-wine theft in the Bay Area in March, the papers say.

Charging papers do not indicate if the two are considered suspects in that case.

The wine consultant said he was contacted by Harris later this year, but became suspicious because the wines Harris was selling were far more valuable than the $125,000 Harris was asking, according to the charges. So the consultant didn’t complete the transaction, the charging papers say.

Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or sgreen@seattletimes.com

Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this story.



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