Comic Relief: Comic Thief Attempts to Sell Stolen Books to the Wrong Party

- by Michael Stillman

Apotheosis Comics & Lounge (from their Facebook page).

Here is a theft story with a happy ending. Actually, it is more than an ordinary happy ending as the irony is absolutely beautiful.


Martin Casas of St. Louis owned a collection of 3,000 comic books which he kept in a storage locker. His comics were more than an investment or even an ordinary collection to him. That is not to say they aren't valuable too. They are likely worth tens of thousands of dollars. However, many also had personal connections to their owner. They came from his youth, or from holidays, family events such as the birth of his daughter, wedding, or vacations. Their value was as much if not more in the intangible, personal relations as in the physical books themselves.


Then, one day last month, he learned they were all gone. Someone had broken into his storage locker and swiped them. Unfortunately, its location was in an area not covered by security cameras. With no evidence, it looked hopeless that these would be found. The area had already been victim to a rash of storage locker break-ins but the thieves had been expert at keeping their identity unknown.


What the thieves did not know is that the owner of the material in this storage container was also a comic book dealer. About a year ago, Casas open up Apotheosis Comics & Lounge. When they went to pawn off the comic books, that was the logical place to go. A woman appeared at the store when Casas was not present and showed the people on duty a box of comics. She left them in the store, along with a contact name and telephone number. They called Casas and informed him that a woman had brought in a nice collection of comics, which she left there for him to make an offer. Casas had wisely told his employees after the theft to let him know if anyone came in offering a comic collection, on the outside chance it would be his.


When Casas looked in the box, he quickly realized their origin. There was a notation on the box in his daughter's handwriting. There were other notes inside of some comics he recognized. Casas called the police.


When the police arrived, they set up a sting operation. Casas called up the woman and expressed an interest in purchasing the comics, along with asking whether she had any others. The woman said she did, and a meeting was arranged for the next morning. As to how long she had owned the comics, the woman explained not very long. She said that she and her boyfriend "do storage units." That was certainly the truth, though she was probably trying to convey the idea that they bought the contents of abandoned storage units, not that they stole from them.


The following morning, the police were lying in wait when the woman and her boyfriend arrived. They ordered the two to put up their hands and arrested them on the spot. It was a happy ending for Casas, the police, other victims of storage unit thefts, and truth, justice, and the American way. Only two people were disappointed by the outcome.