Vineyard owner Stan Planchon saw flashlights bobbing in the dark among rows of his zinfandel vines early Monday and knew right away that a grape heist was underway.
His property, six acres of old vines planted near the intersection of Empire Avenue and Laurel Road, was being pillaged. Before police arrived, thieves made off with more than 1,200 pounds of prime grapes grown for California zinfandel giant Rosenblum Cellars, he said.
It was about 1:30 a.m. and his wife had called him to the kitchen to see what was happening, Planchon said.
"I decided to go down and confront these guys, but first of all, I had her call the police," said Planchon, 90, whose family has owned the vineyard since 1902.
Planchon said he drove down and found two vehicles apparently being used by the grape thieves and was able to park his truck to block one of them.
At least two thieves made off in the other getaway vehicle, a truck, Planchon said.