$1.1 million in rare vodka stolen from warehouse

Posted at 11:19 AM, Jul 05, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-05 11:24:28-04

(CNN) – If you know who swiped more than 4,500 bottles of vodka from a Miami area customs warehouse, it could be worth $5,000 to you. And if you use that reward to buy the stuff at some South Beach nightclubs, you could buy about four bottles of it.

The pricey drink is Spirit of the Tsars Golden Vodka, and last month thieves grabbed 752 cases of it, busting a case-sized hole through a concrete wall to grab their pricey loot.

Bottles of the amber liquid, distilled in and imported from Ukraine, retail for $249 in liquor stores but can fetch $1,200 a bottle at trendy nightclubs. The value of the entire theft was put at $1.1 million.

The company says in a statement the sipping vodka has become “the newest Holy Grail for collectors and connoisseurs.”

“We call it golden vodka for a reason. It’s an amber color, a golden color. It’s aged in cognac barrels for three years,” Mark Owens, president of Spirits of the Tsars Vodka, told CNN affiliate WSVN.

The bottles themselves even have value. They are made in France and a portion of the label is a 24-carat gold veneer.

Owens said the thieves definitely knew what they were after when they hit the warehouse on June 22. They busted through a concrete wall right where the vodka was being stored. And they ignored other high-value items in the warehouse, including art, precious metals and cars, the company said in a statement.

“I couldn’t believe it at first, that they actually broke through a concrete wall. They obviously crawled through that hole and handed the vodka out to their team,” he said.

Video surveillance showed the thieves arriving in a glass-roofed Mercedes sedan about 11 p.m. Later, a panel van and a large box truck showed up, carting off the last of the vodka about 4:30 a.m., WSVN reported.

The theft will cost Owens a big chunk of his business. Only 5,000 bottles of the vodka are produced for export to the United States every year, according to the WSVN report.

“These sorts of events put us in a difficult position where we deplete our limited stock unexpectedly,” Owens said in a statement. “We would … ask our clients to report anyone trying to sell them our product outside of our normal distributors.”

Anyone with information is asked to call 786-629-2022, the company’s reward flier says. The reward will be paid in cash, and tipsters can remain anonymous.