Guards split $20K reward for finding stolen wine
Two security guards shared the reward offered by the owner of Esquin Wine Merchants for the safe return of more than a half-million dollars worth of wine stolen during an elaborate heist.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Two security guards have split a $20,000 reward for helping find more than $600,000 worth of wine that was stolen from a Seattle wine store and storage facility during an elaborate Thanksgiving Day heist.
The two men, Jim White and Terry Ottaway Jr., of Northwest Security Services, were presented with the money last week by Chuck LeFevre, owner of Esquin Wine Merchants.
A supervisor at Northwest Security Services would not elaborate on what the men did to earn the reward, saying the information is privileged. He did, however, confirm that the two men provide security for the storage facility where the stolen wine was found nearly two weeks after the theft.
Esquin spokesman Dan Miller said Ottaway told White that Seattle police were asking people to be on the alert for the stolen wine and that White was able to identify “suspicious activity” while reviewing hours of security video.
According to police, the wine was recovered on Dec. 11 in a temperature-controlled storage facility less than a mile away from Esquin’s Sodo facility.
Esquin Wine Merchants also presented a check for $500 to the Seattle Police Foundation as a gesture of thanks for the work police did in the case, Miller wrote in a statement released Monday.
Samuel Harris, 34, and Luke Thesing, 35, were arrested and charged with theft, burglary and attempted arson for allegedly planning and carrying out what police and prosecutors described as an elaborate heist.
Both men are being held in King County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bail.
Prosecutors allege the two men entered the building on Fourth Avenue, disabled motion sensors and spray-painted surveillance cameras before making off with 200 cases of wine, estimated to be worth $648,000. Before they left, the thieves are alleged to have cut gas lines and tampered with a pilot light, which fire officials said could have caused an explosion in the retail building.
The theft was discovered the next day when gas was smelled in the building, police said.
The pair missed one surveillance camera, however, allowing Esquin employees to identify Harris, who previously had rented a wine-storage locker, according to charging documents.
Thesing was arrested after police found among Harris’ possessions a receipt from Lowe’s, which had surveillance video showing the two men together, according to the documents.
Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.
Christine Clarridge can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-464-8983.