Almost one year ago, Southern California comics retailer Brave New World Comics announced they had been the victim of a burglary and that $1700 worth of product had been stolen. Additionally, there was much damage caused by the burglary which only added to the losses for the store. And while in most stories of this case it's rare that the stolen goods are returned and the perpetrators caught, this is one of those stories that resulted in a success.
Brave New World issued a press release earlier today detailing the return of their stolen product and the capture of the perpetrators. We've reprinted the story below and congratulate Atom! and the entire crew of Brave New World Comics on their triumph.
Official Press Release
In the early morning hours of January 17th, 2004 a young man decided to commit a crime. He picked up something heavy and let himself into the world famous Brave New World Comics in Santa Clarita, California doing as much as the Northridge Quake had ten years earlier. He smashed the front window, covering the children's book display with shards of broken glass, scaled various shelving and fixtures, and continued to smash his way into the glass showcase in the back of the store. Destroying several thousands of dollars in sculptures and collectibles, he stole all of the high-end silver and golden age comics he could get his hands on.
The next morning, the staff of Brave New World started the day in the same way they always do. They cleaned up from the night before, and prepared to sell the world's finest in comics, graphic novels, and pop culture gear. In the coming months they found new ways to pick up the pieces of the store that has become a cornerstone of the Santa Clarita Valley and the comics community at large. They designed handbags made from the laminated sheets of the children's comics, auctioned off the damaged statues at a charity auction, and used the loss of their fixtures to redesign and refresh the familiar layout. Then the donations started coming in.
Publishers and distributors from all over the comics community sent their good wishes, books, comics and statues to help Brave New World start rebuilding. From the early morning cheesecake and coffee from the Town Grind, to originator of 24 Hour Comics Day and critically acclaimed small publisher About Comics, to one of the world's largest publishers of comic books, DC Comics, the donations were both generous and gratefully received. When the last box was opened, glass was cleaned up and the furniture moved, when the last of the children's books were turned into handbags and the auction fervor had died down, Brave New World thought that the entire experience was behind them. Then Atom! got a phone call.
Atom!, one of the proprietors of BNW and man of exemplary punctuation, was grocery shopping with his very pregnant wife, Portlyn, when his cell phone rang. It seemed that the young criminal who had broken in months before was now making the rounds trying to fence his ill-gotten gains. Ironically, he tried to sell them to the owner of another comics shop (Paul Sager, of Continental Comics), a mere 8 miles from the crime scene. Luckily, Paul recognized the distinctive copy of Amazing Spider-man #2 that was stolen months before, and referred the thief to Bob Ranken, a private comics collector, 'garage dealer', and long time friend of the World, living in Santa Clarita. That's when the phone calls began. Within the hour, the thief and his compatriot pulled their hotwired car into the driveway of a sting. Thirty minutes later, these under-aged criminals were in handcuffs, and the comics were back into the hands of their rightful owners.
"It was one of the most exciting things I've ever been involved in," said Atom!, "We had gone from selling the superlative stories of crime-fighters to helping the incredible force of the Santa Clarita Sheriff Department catch and prosecute those who would do us harm!"
The juvenile offenders later plead guilty to trafficking in stolen goods were given a plea bargain that landed them in work farms.
Brave New World is now pleased to offer the comics that were stolen, and returned after a journey into the underworld of Los Angeles County, for sale. To discourage other would-be thieves the comics themselves will remain in storage until a worthy collector can be found. Though scans of the Brave New World Burglary Collection are on display for all to see, have no fear: the actual comics remain in an undisclosed locale. "Pedigreed comics have a long history in the world of comics collecting," explained Atom!. "Not content with just any copy of their favorite comic book, collectors are willing to pay top dollar for these distinctive items and we are confident that the Brave New World Burglary Collection will take their place among these sought after pedigrees." Brave New Wife, and New Mommy, Portlyn, was less certain. "It was amazing to see the comics community come together, but it was even better to see the bad guys in cuffs", she said.