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The overwhelming majority of fan interactions, be they on the street, at a con, or at the local comic shop, are very, very positive. Heartwarming, even. And that’s why when something like the following Crimestoppers report happens, it feels like an even greater betrayal. Earlier this year, Steve Sansweet, known to be the world’s most prolific Star Wars memorabilia collector, suffered a theft of over $200,000 in items at his Rancho Obi-Wan Museum in California. The alleged perpetrator has been a friend of Sansweet for over 20 years, but with the crime seemingly solved there’s still one thing left to do: to help Sansweet get his stuff back. 

In February, Sansweet had discovered that over 100 items from his vast, 40-year collection of Star Wars ephemera had gone missing over a one year period between 2015 and 2016, most of them were rare and carded action figures. Around the same time, Philip Wise, the owner of several Star Wars fan sites, noted the theft of a rare Boba Fett figure from his own warehouse in Texas, and tracked the figure to Zach Tann, a southern California toy dealer who recognized Wise’s description of the item, and volunteered that he had bought that figure from another collector: Carl Edward Cunningham.

“I have known Carl for many years, considered him a good and trusted friend, and played host to him at my home numerous times,” said Sansweet is a statement on his website. “I, and the staff at Rancho Obi-Wan, are devastated that he is the alleged perpetrator of the thefts. Not only have important items been stolen from the collection, but also our time, energy and ability to trust unconditionally have taken a blow.”

Cunningham was arrested in March in Sonoma County, California, and was charged with felony grand theft. Although he’s presently free on $25,000 bail, he has to return to court for a preliminary hearing on June 27. The priority now for Sansweet is to get his stolen items back. Tann has already been a help in this regard having also bought stolen items from Sansweet from Cunningham, including a rare three-pack of figures and a store display worth $20,000. Police are doing what they can to return the stolen items, but Sansweet is asking for fans to help him out as well. According to Sansweet, two people have already reached out to him about buying items from legitimate dealers that they think could be a part of his pilfered collection.

Sansweet hasn’t said publicly what all was stolen, and *some* people have suggested that putting a list out there might help the process along…

If you have any information about stolen Star Wars items from Rancho Obi-Wan, you’re encourage to get in touch with Sansweet at tips@ranchoobiwan.org.

Source: The Guardian UK

Category: Nerd Culture

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