The man and woman eluded capture for nearly nine months before they were arrested on the Montenegro-Croatia border on Tuesday for stealing 45 bottles of wine from the Atrio restaurant in Caceres, western Spain, a statement from Spain’s national police said.
Police said the total value of the stolen wine was €1,648,500 (about $1.68 million) and an individual bottle was worth €310,000.
The heist took place on Oct. 27, 2021, and was planned “in minute detail,” with the thieves making three visits to the restaurant to prepare for the raid, officials said.
The suspects “demonstrated a high level of professionalism, specialization and thorough planning,” the police statement added.
Investigators found that the woman had booked into the Atrio Hotel using a fake Swiss document and had dinner at the restaurant with her male companion.
Both suspects were then given a tour of the wine cellar by staff, which is a common occurrence, according to police.
They then went to their hotel room together, but the man left after a few minutes and returned to the basement.
He entered using a stolen master key, and left moments later with three large rucksacks full of stolen wine, stuffed with hotel towels to cushion the bottles.
While he was stealing the liquor, the woman distracted the staff by asking for some food to be prepared, despite the fact that the kitchen was already closed, police said.
Staff noticed the bottles were missing the next morning, but the suspects left the scene around 5am.
The thieves left Spain and traveled to various European countries within days of the theft, making it difficult for agents to pinpoint their exact location, police said.
But authorities eventually caught up with them entering Croatia from Montenegro at the Karasovi Sutorina border crossing.
Spanish police praised the “perfect coordination” between national and international investigators from authorities including Interpol.
Police said the male suspect had two more outstanding warrants from a Madrid court at the time of his arrest.
Polo said he would buy back stolen bottles from thieves, particularly the 1806 Chateau d’Yquem.
“More than bottles of wine, they robbed us of our dreams,” he told Decanter.