The New York Times, never known to miss an opportunity to coddle up to the six-figure earners among its readership, has filed a humdinger of a story about the theft of roughly $100,000 worth of wine in California.

Among the bottles taken from a swanky private residence in Atherton was “a rare $11,000 1959 magnum from the Chateau Pétrus in Bordeaux, France.” The hand-wringing over the skyrocketing value of wine (and the relative weakness of the good old-fashioned U.S. dollar) is entertaining enough, but then a wine importer takes it to the next level.

Unlike missing art and antiquities, hot wine has no official registry. ‘Something like an Amber alert would be very useful,’ said George Derbalian, the president of Atherton Wine Imports, an importer of Burgundy and Bordeaux.

For those not in the know: Amber alerts are general mobilizations of public agencies and private citizens for the purpose of locating abducted children.

While there’s no doubt that an Amber alert system for wine would be very useful for wine importers and wealthy California landowners alike, it does open the question of whether it’s cool to suggest that the theft of privately held and well-guarded luxury goods holds the same moral stature, as, say, an eight-year-old duct-taped and thrown in the trunk of Hannibal Lecter’s Mercedes CLK-class coupe.

It would have been nice had the quote from Mr. Derbalian been run as follows:

Unlike missing art and antiquities, hot wine has no official registry. ‘Something like an Amber alert would be very useful,’ said George Derbalian, the president of Atherton Wine Imports, an importer of Burgundy and Bordeaux.

While no other prominent figure in the California wine community was willing to go on the record and say something as transparently douchebaggy as Mr. Derbalian, there is a general feeling among collectors and importers alike that there is more that the state could be doing to protect the playthings of the wealthy. ‘As opposed to building roads or providing health care to the children of migrant workers,’ added Mr. Derbalian, a visible sneer tracing its sinister outline across his thin, cracked lips, long ago sapped of their youthful fullness by decades of nihilistic hedonism.

But I guess the Times still has a way to go before their copy desk lets that sort of thing through the fine mesh of their editing process. To the paper’s credit, the article ends with a final jolt of moral clarity.

The case has lingering overtones for Sergeant Wade, who also was working on a case in nearby East Palo Alto, a city that has long wrestled with high crime rates.

‘An 18-year-old girl was shot point-blank in the head and I received no calls about it,’ he said. ‘The wine theft? A gazillion. It kind of shows you where people’s values lie.’

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