Fla. Police Seek 'Champagne Bandit'


PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Police are looking for a rather finicky shoplifter: a man who apparently likes Moet & Chandon White Star champagne.

The man, called the "Champagne Bandit," has stolen $30 bottles of the bubbly from Publix supermarkets along central Florida's east coast, according to the St. Lucie County Sheriff's office.

"It is a unique case," St. Lucie Sheriff Ken Mascara said. "It's the first one I can recall where the person is targeting the same make of wine."

The bandit is described as 6 feet tall and 300 pounds. Security videotapes showed him wearing a large, untucked white dress shirt, jeans and a white ball cap. Last week a manager at the same Publix in Port St. Lucie reported two bottles of Moet & Chandon had been stolen.

The manager said the store has had 24 other bottles of the same champagne stolen since Oct. 5. Maria Rodamis, a Publix spokeswoman, said the supermarket chain is fully cooperating with investigators. She declined further comment.

Police are still trying to pin down his motive, but they note the champagne is often served with cheese-based entrees, oysters or fish.

"Maybe he's a fine chef and he needs wine to accompany his meal," Mascara said.

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