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Brazen overnight heist from Opici wine facility in Glen Rock

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

EXCLUSIVE: Five thieves pulled off a brazen overnight heist of a truck loaded with $23,000 worth of vino from the Glen Rock hub of world-famous Opici wines, driving the crates to Paterson and off-loading them into a van before taking off.

Surveillance video shows the thieves entering the complex of the Opici family’s American Beverage & Distribution Company on De Boer Drive in a dark sedan sometime after 1 Tuesday morning, Glen Rock Police Chief Fred Stahman told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

“We think it’s an inside job, because the gates went up,” the chief said. “Five people got out, roaming around through the trucks.”

Although they broke the seals off four trucks and popped the ignition out of at least two, they got only one started, Stahman told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

With the dark sedan following, the truck headed down Route 20 to a lot just north of the 5th Avenue circle in Paterson, where another camera captured images of the thieves – all in dark-colored clothing – loading the Opici Wine Group’s products into a white van.

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“The black car and the van then took off,” Stahman told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

The first employee at the plant found the broken seals and ignitions on the ground outside the other trucks when he showed up for work Tuesday morning at 6, the chief said.

The iconic, fourth-generation Opici Wine Group has a storied history in North Jersey, beginning when founder Battista Opici emigrated from Italy in 1899 to help build the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Newark.

Family members began working in the wholesale beverage industry in Paterson 14 years later, importing wines from friends in Italy. They took a double hit in the early 1930s with the Depression and Prohibition. But the family survived  – and, soon, thrived.

Opici’s son, Joseph, got a railroad car full of wine from a former supplier from California and was quickly on his way to what is now 77 years’ worth of successful business.

In 1934, he founded the American Beverage Distribution Company. Later that year, his own son joined him after graduating from Ramsey High School.

Joseph headed to California five years later to establish a left-coast winery in Cucamonga. In 1948, it moved to a much larger facility in Altaloma.

The business grew so quickly that the Opicis had to move to a huge facility in Hawthorne in 1960. They eventually set up their corporate headquarters in the 200,000 square-foot facility in Glen Rock in 1997.


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