It may not be the robbery of the century, but the fact is that the the country call you “one of the great robberies in the history of Spain” and It is a case that has attracted attention, in the country and across borders. Among the thieves is even an ex-miss Mexican.
This police officer goes from robbery, at the end of 2021, to a luxury hotel and its millionaire wine cellar, the Atrio from Cáceres, by a couple who stayed there; the arrest of the suspects, the following summer, in Croatia, which Fugas had already reported; until this week and the moment when the sentence was handed down in the Provincial Court of Cáceres.
That’s four years in prison (for her, a few more months for him) for the theft of 45 bottles of top wines, with a first released value of 1.6 million euros, but which the insurer’s assessment would drop to almost half, with a claim for compensation, which the accused will have to pay, of around 754 thousand euros. Only one of the wines, an 1806 Chateau d’Yquem, was marked at €350,000 on the menu.
In addition to the high-profile case, the theft had its cinematographic aspect: the couple consisting of Constantín Dumitru, Romanian-Dutch, 49 years old, and Priscila Guevara, former Miss Earth Estado de México, 28, stayed at the hotel; then went down to dinner at the famous restaurant led by chef Toño Perez, awarded with two Michelin stars; at dawn he carried out the operation to relieve the Atrium of 45 bottles worth gold. They disappeared into the night. They would be arrested months later, tried and convicted now. But, between established facts and doubts, one detail was not clarified: where did the wine end up?
a decanted robbery
A few months earlier, the couple had already passed through the hotel, proving that they were preparing the robbery. On October 27, 2021, the woman, in disguise and with a fake Swiss passport, made the reservation. She checked in with only a light backpack (the light one is not in vain, details the newspaper ABC; by chance, an employee grabbed the backpack and it really weighed almost nothing).
Later, Constantín Dumitru appeared, who stayed for dinner (with pomp and circumstance: a 14-course tasting menu with two Michelin stars). After dinner, the couple took a guided tour of the cellar (“normal” visit). The man would end up staying at the hotel, but without doing the check in. Early in the morning, around 2 am, Priscilla Guevara starts calling the reception with orders for food, which were not answered at first, with the receptionist apologizing for being alone (and finding his appetite strange, since the couple’s dinner had those 14 dishes…) . At her insistence, he left the front desk and went to prepare a salad for her.
The unfolding of what followed that night was witnessed by hotel staff and various parties captured on video.
During the receptionist’s absence, Dumitru takes a magnetic card from reception. He tried to get into reception, but this didn’t work. However, the waiter returned to the counter after delivering the salad. Dumitru calls Priscilla to explain the setback. Priscilla goes back to ordering food: this time, she wanted something for dessert. The receptionist agrees to bring him some fruit. Dumitru takes advantage of the new absence to withdraw another card and, this time, bingo!, it was a master key. He enters the cellar (with a mask) and removes the 45 bottles of wine from the cellars. He will hide them in large rucksacks and bags – the cameras record his attempts to enter and the already heavier exit.
Around 5 am, the couple leaves the hotel, he with the backpack and the two bags. They get into a Mercedes, disappear into the night.
Nine months of investigation followed by the Spanish authorities, with international support, until the couple were arrested in an Albania-Croatia border area.
Mysteries, doubts and wine
But how was it possible to enter the cellar, the crown jewel of the hotel-restaurantwhich advertises not 40 or 45, but 40,000 bottles, used in many images promotional and presumably high security? Second reports O the countrywhich, thanks to the journalist Patricia ortega Dolzpublished a poirotian summary of the issues raised at the trial, the records show that the first card used was for room 106, where, coincidentally, they were staying that night friends of the owners of the enterprise, the chef perez and the sommelier Joseph Pole. Why would the card be at reception if customers were in the room?
The other card, used to access the cellars, was the equivalent of the master key. And here are two of the great mysteries, why only those cards were removed and how they found the master key so easily, since several hotel employees say that it is necessary to know how to recognize this card to be able to correctly identify it in a drawer that contains dozens of cards. all the same. And this is why the master key purposely has no particular sign to the naked eye – and can only be identified by trained reception staff.
Furthermore, among the facts witnessed by employees, which are also confusing, is precisely this one concerning the use of the master key: a receptionist would be using that card at the time when it is supposed that the thief already had it.
Interestingly, Portugal also appears in the story: the former miss, who made calls to the reception asking for food to distract the receptionist, received a call in Dumitru on your mobile (between first and second attempts to swipe cards at reception). The call was identified as coming from a number registered in the name of one Daniel Florín Stanley. Now this Daniel already had a history. And in Portugal: “He was arrested for a similar offense in Portugal in 2008,” said an agent quoted by the country. As you can see, Daniel and Dumitru are the same person, as the fingerprints ensured. No further details were disclosed about the Portuguese case.
In the list of doubts arising in the investigation and trial, summarized by the country, there is also a question of DNA: a trace of a third unknown person was found throughout the room. The question has hovered over the case: did they act alone? It is not known. Another issue concerns the backpack and bags: the woman was only seen with a small backpack, the man entered without luggage, but in the end they ended up taking the bottles in three large and heavy backpacks.
The correct reference value of the wines was also talked about. If the owners initially reported a loss of 1.6 million euros (at the sale price), a winemaker considered that they would be around 1.2M and the insurer closed the claim for compensation at 753,454 euros.
Final happy? yes and maybe not
For homeowners, it sums up the El País, the theft became a streak of good luck: worldwide publicity (the case was followed by full-reach media, the case of CNN), shortly afterwards a third Michelin star for the restaurant, purchase of another “monumental building” (newspaper terms) to expand the property, creation of a cultural foundation.
As for the conviction of the couple and future developments, the case may have new chapters, as it is still possible to appeal to the Supreme Court of Justice of Extremadura.
And where does the wine stop? A good question, which leaves an extension of mystery in the mouth. So much so that the accused Dumitru underlined this detail in court: “If I am the thief, why do I ask myself ‘Where are the bottles of wine’?”