ANAHEIM – It took one Facebook update to help catch a suspect in the theft of nearly $18,000 worth of comic books from a store in Anaheim.
One of the stolen comics is a rare 1963 “Amazing Spider-Man” issue signed by author Stan Lee.
The burglary at Beach Ball Comics, 3024 W. Ball Road, was reported about 6:30 a.m. Jan. 30, Anaheim police Sgt. Bob Dunn said. The thief smashed the store’s window with a rock and took 11 comic books from a glass display case, said Sally Jacka, 26, the store’s manager.
Among the stolen goods: the signed Lee No. 1 “Spider-Man” issue, worth $5,495; a 1939 “Superman” No. 33 issue signed by Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joseph Shuster, valued at $3,300; and a 1940 “Batman” No. 4 issue signed by Jerry Robinson that’s worth $1,000.
Anaheim police arrived and took a report while the store’s owner posted a list of the stolen goods on Facebook.
Fans of Beach Ball Comics shared the bulletin on their Facebook timelines. Others alerted members of Orange County Geekdom Meetup and OC Anime groups. Even the editor of MTV Geek was apparently notified. Later in the day, the bulletin made it to bleedingcool.com, a well-known blog site about the comic-book industry.
Things turned around in a matter of hours.
About 1 p.m., Nicholas Ignacio, 30, of Collector’s Paradise in Winnetka helped a man who wanted to sell two “Incredible Hulk” comics, Nos. 102 and 181.
“We immediately knew that they fit the description of two of the books that were in the list of stolen comics,” Ignacio said.
Ignacio informed an employee through text message, and Beach Ball Comics’ owner was alerted. Soon after, the police were aware of the situation.
Now, all Ignacio had to do was stall the man with the “Hulk” books.
Ignacio expressed interest in the books and told the man the store didn’t have enough cash in the register to make the purchase.
“He was waiting, and all of a sudden, he looked up and left without saying a word,” Ignacio said. “Ten minutes later an officer came in and said they had caught the guy.”
Ignacio said the man had apparently gone to another store attempting to sell the books, and an employee had noted his license plate.
Seven of the stolen comics were retrieved. As of late last week, the signed Lee and Siegel & Shuster, along with two other comics, remained missing.
“I don’t think people realize how connected comic retailers are,” Jacka said. “It was one of the good sides of social media for once.”
The Los Angeles Police Department had the man in custody, Dunn said.
By ALEJANDRA MOLINA/ THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
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