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A 50-year-old suspect who allegedly stole $6,000 to $8,000 in wine, champagne and other merchandise from the Monsieur Marcel Gourmet Market at the Original Farmers Market last week was arrested after a store employee recognized the suspect and had seen him walking around The Grove.
The suspect, Charles Brown, has a history of burglary arrests, according to Det. Brent Johnson, with the Los Angeles Police Department’s Wilshire Division. Brown was charged with two counts of burglary and two counts of petty theft for the incidents at Monsieur Marcel, and remains in custody, Johnson said.
Brown is alleged to have entered the Monsieur Marcel market on August 23, 24 and 25 and forced open locked wine cabinets and champagne cases. Stephane Strouk, owner of Monsieur Marcel, said the thief apparently knew what he was looking for, and stole eight bottles of Chateau La Mondotte, priced at $330 each, as well as numerous bottles of expensive champagne, including Cristal and Dom Perignon, all of which were priced at more than $150 per bottle.
Strouk said the thief took bottles from the back of the case, leaving one at the front so store employees would not notice the other bottles missing. On August 26, employees realized the thefts had occurred and reviewed the surveillance camera footage, according to Strouk. A camera pointing directly at the wine cabinets captured Brown taking the bottles. The suspect also allegedly stole truffle oil, which is valued at more than $100 a bottle.
“Everything over one hundred dollars he could take, he took it,” Strouk said. “We reviewed the security video and realized he had done it for three days.”
Shortly after Strouk and his employees reviewed the footage on Thursday, an employee realized the suspect had been at The Grove earlier that morning. Security guards from the Farmers Market then located the suspect around 1 p.m. inside the Tommy Bahama store at The Grove, and held him until police arrived.
Johnson confirmed that Brown was the person in the surveillance footage, and said he could be seen breaking into the wine cabinets.
“It just so happened that this person was still in the area,” Johnson said “He may have been trying to do the same thing at other stores.”
Johnson said none of the wine and champagne was recovered, and he believes Brown likely sold the merchandise. Brown allegedly carried the merchandise out of the store in a canvas bag that was placed inside a larger shopping bag.
Strouk said he had seen the suspect in the store before, but he had not raised suspicion. He said thefts are uncommon at the store, and credited his employees and the Farmers Market security for the quick apprehension.
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