Duo nets prison time for elaborate 2013 wine theft
Pair get prison for elaborate “Mission Impossible”-style theft of nearly $650,000 in rare wines from a Sodo storage facility
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Seattle man who orchestrated a “Mission Impossible”-style heist from a wine storage business — cutting through walls, disabling cameras and utilizing magnets in his quest — was given a maximum nine-year prison sentence by a King County Superior Court on Friday.
Samuel Harris, 35, was sentenced for a brazen Thanksgiving Day heist in which he and an accomplice broke into Esquin Wine & Spirits and made off with nearly $650,000 worth of high-end wine.
Harris’ accomplice, Luke Thesing, 36, was given a five-year sentence for his role during a separate hearing Friday.
Prosecutors say Harris cut gas lines in the building and tampered with a pilot light in an effort to start a fire that would cover the crime.
Had his plan worked, it could have caused a catastrophic explosion in the city’s Sodo neighborhood, prosecutors said.
“The community will not tolerate this; I will not tolerate this. You put our entire community at risk,” said Judge Julie Spector.
Harris and Thesing each pleaded guilty earlier this month to a single count of second-degree burglary and nine counts of first-degree theft for the Esquin caper.
Harris also pleaded to one count of attempted first-degree arson and an additional count of first-degree theft for stealing wine worth more than $250,000 from a Belltown woman in May 2013.
Harris was tied to the Belltown theft by detectives investigating the Esquin caper. According to Senior Deputy Prosecutor Alexandra Voorhees, Harris had been planning the elaborate theft, which included renting trucks and building a ramp, for at least a month.
On Thanksgiving, the men broke into Esquin Wine & Spirits on Fourth Avenue where they disabled motion sensors and spray-painted surveillance cameras before accessing the storage area and carting off more than 200 cases of wine, police and prosecutors said.
The theft, and the attempted arson, were discovered the next day when someone smelled gas in the building, police said.
However, the pair failed to disable one surveillance camera and Esquin employees identified Harris, who previously had rented a wine-storage locker at the facility, 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.
Both men apologized for their actions at their hearings and said they had not intended to hurt anyone.
Christine Clarridge can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-464-8983. Information from The Seattle Times archives is included in this report.