French thieves steal entire Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard

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Media captionPolice have been examining footprints left at the scene

Thieves in France have broken into a vineyard and stolen an entire crop of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, say police.

They struck in Villeneuve-les-Beziers on Sunday night, taking advantage of a full moon and using a harvesting machine to seize 30 tonnes of the crop.

Farmer Roland Cavaille said similar crimes had taken place before in the Languedoc-Roussillon, one of France's best-known wine growing regions.

He said the theft amounted to a year's work and about 15,000 euro (£12,900).

"They used a harvesting machine to gather grapes. This means there was no need to have lots of people, two people would have been enough," Mr Cavaille told Le Parisien newspaper.

"The area was quite isolated, it is a a few kilometres from the village and near a river. So the thieves were able to work safely."

One witness reported hearing engine noises in the early hours of the morning and police have been examining footprints left at the scene, said the newspaper.

But Mr Cavaille said the thieves were clearly professionals who could easily sell on the grapes.

He said there had been a similar grape theft had been reported in the area four years ago and that another complaint had also been filed this year.

While his vineyard was insured, it did not cover the loss of the grapes themselves.

Mr Cavaille told Europe1 news he had no idea who had taken the grapes but that he was angered and surprised by the theft, as he believed there was a "degree of solidarity" between winemakers.

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