Robbers steal £8,000 worth of champagne and spirits from Runcorn warehouse

Runcorn and Widnes World: Ruth Yates Ruth Yates

A DARING gang swooped on a Runcorn warehouse and stole £8,000 of top quality champagne and spirits in a lightning raid.

Police today renewed their appeal to anyone who may have been offered 'cheap' champagne to contact them.

Three male robbers smashed their way into the Corks Out premises in Manor Park and loaded up a white van in four minutes.

Their lucrative haul included 46 six-bottle cases of gift boxed Laurent-Perrier Rose and Jura and Auchentoshan malt whiskey.

The hooded trio attacked the CCTV system outside and broke shutters to break-in.

But their smash and grab raid was caught on cameras inside the warehouse.

PC Chris Birchall, who was at the scene minutes after the robbers escaped, said: “They were very quick and very organised. They got in and out in less than five minutes.

“This isn’t a big massive corporate business. This is someone who has worked hard all their life to get to where they are which makes it even mmore sad.

“They are stealing off a person rather than a big faceless company.

“If anyone is offered this champagne or spirits by someone knocking on the door, we’d be interested in hearing about it.

“We’ve got leads we’re following up.”

Owner Ruth Yates, aged 47, said: “It is annoying. It may be that we were watched for a while as they seemed to know exactly where they were going in the warehouse.

“We captured the whole thing on CCTV and it took four minutes from start to finish.

“They were youths in their early 20s and they were in a white transit van. If anyone is offered any of this champagne cheap, please contact Cheshire Police.”

Ruth opened her first shop in Stockton Heath in 2003 after studying for trade exams and amassing 20 years’ experience.

She admits knowing absolutely nothing about wine when she started her first job as a teenage mum, working as a part-time shop assistant at a local off-licence.

She said: “I enjoyed the odd glass of wine but knew nothing about it.”

But after tasting Bordeaux, she was hooked.

Ruth added: “I saw it as my mission to demystify wine for customers, take away all the snobbery and make it easy to understand.”

She became a shop manager and then a buyer for Greenalls, breaking into what was a male bastion.

She is still as passionate as ever about wine.

Ruth said: “I now have a lot of respect in the wine world because of my buying experience and negotiating skills which help me get good prices and pass them on to my customers.”

Her award-winning chain of five shops includes a vaulted medieval cellar in Chester.

Ruth was named retailer, small business of the year and business person of the year in the Warrington Guardian Business Awards in 2011. Corks Out was Champagne Retailer of the Year 2013 and has won 24 other awards.

The robbery happened at 3.30pm on Sunday, December 22. The lot number of the stolen champagne is 23zp109390. Anyone with information can call Cheshire Police on 101.

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