It began with the disappearance of $5 million worth of Australia's best wines.
Granges, Henschkes and Torbrecks that vanished without a trace amid the wreckage of a Hunter wine empire collapse in 2013.
More than 30,000 bottles, including a 1951 Penfold's Grange valued at more than $65,000.
Arguably one of the country's most infamous heists will now remain officially unsolved after the State Crime Command quietly disbanded Strike Force Farrington, that was set up to investigate the case.
In spite of an intensive three-year investigation by fraud and cybercrime squad police, no charges have been laid in relation to the missing prestige wine.
The wine collections were held under agreement for more than 300 owners by Wine Investment Services Pty Ltd, one of a number of companies that was part of the failed empire of former James Estate Wines boss David James.
James Estate companies went belly-up in 2013 leaving debts of more than $25 million.
To add insult to injury for the collectors, the Newcastle Herald can reveal that Strike Force Farrington recovered a large amount of the stolen wine, but it has not been returned to its owners.
A police spokeswoman said officers were seeking advice from "industry and legal experts" about the disposal of the seized wine.
"When the wine was located, it was inspected by cellaring experts, who deemed the conditions were sub-standard and the wine would no longer be of value," she said.
"Despite extensive investigations, Strike Force Farrington did not lay charges over the missing wine."
Retiree Eric Schick who lost 1394 bottles of wine, worth more than $110,000, said he found it hard to believe that the investigation had been dropped after three years.
Like many of the wine owners, Mr Schick planned to use his collection as part of his superannuation to assist him in retirement.
"To be perfectly honest, it's extremely disappointing after all this time and money spent trying to get to the bottom of it," Mr Schick said.
"Someone stole it and they have gotten away with it. A lot of people have lost a lot of money and the police have spent a lot of money to get no outcome.
"It seems we all got ripped off, even the taxpayers who paid for this investigation."
Another wine owner, who asked not to be identified, said he "couldn't believe" the strike force had been disbanded.
"For them to spend so much time looking at it and to give up just doesn't make any sense," he said.
"It's also hard to believe the wine they seized is worthless. I would like to know who made that decision and I would like to know why no-one told any of the wine owners about any of this.
"Where they hoping we would never find out and just forget about it?"
In reports to creditors in 2013, liquidator Shaun Fraser of McGrathNicol alleged the high-end wines were stored in a Homebush warehouse.
The reports show the liquidator contacted police after it was unable to locate the prestige wines held by Wine Investment Services.
It's understood some of the wine collections have not been recovered.
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