A selection of rare and highly valuable comic books has been stolen from their rightful owner, including Avengers #1, Iron Man #1, and Justice League of America #1. Thankfully, the bumbling burglar behind the heist turned out to be as far from a supervillain as you can get.
The burglary took place at Mile High Comics, the well known proprietor based in Denver, Colorado and former staple of San Diego Comic-Con over the Memorial Day Weekend. The thief broke into the store, smashed glass cases one at a time, and plucked out carefully selected issues (including New Mutants #98, the first appearance of Deadpool. But the robbery took a turn when the clumsy burglar cut themselves on the broken glass, and turned a quick smash-and-grab into a bloody mess.
Our Memorial Day weekend was filled with drama, but not in a good way. At approximately 5 AM on Sunday morning we had someone break in through the rear door of Jason St. He then proceeded to walk our front area of the store, where we have five 6' tall cases filled with our most significant back issues. He smashed the doors off three of those cases, and then chose 14 comics to steal, which had a net retail value of $42,000+.
While his crime netted him some beautiful comics, it came with a significant potential price. First, we have video of him engaged in his theft, which we have shared with the news media throughout Colorado. Tips have already been coming in to the Denver P.D. as to his identity. Second, he apparently cut himself rather significantly, as he left a shower of blood drops all around the cases, and also over by our sink. Denver P.D. went to great lengths to get his DNA and other evidence, so if he is eventually identified, he is going to have a very hard time denying his culpability.
Mile High's William Moulton provided video of the break-in, including the burglar slicing themselves open on a large piece of broken glass, to Denver7 News. After realizing the extent of their injury, the burglar headed for the store's own cleaning products and began to clean up the case with power towels. Apparently they eventually realized that, having failed to actually bandage or wrap the wound, the blood spread throughout the store while cleaning made cleanup a bit pointless. At some point in the burglary, they also apparently removed their mask giving surveillance cameras a look at his face, as well.
It's easy to play armchair cat burglar, but a brilliantly executed heist this was most definitely NOT. The decision to leave glass intact, attempt then abort cleanup, and even leave behind a paper list of the books he intended to steal--hand written, and presumably covered in his fingerprints--all make this an easy incident for Moulton to laugh at. But Mile High's optimism may also be due to the burglar's targets. Or, more accurately, what comics they weren't interested in. Moulton explains:
One inexplicable peculiarity of this crime was the selection process. While our thief did steal 13 rare comics and my personal incredibly cool 1943 letter from the Superman Fan Club of America, he left behind over $100,000 in other rare issues. After you've already busted out the showcase doors, why would you leave behind such great back issues as a slabbed AVENGERS #1 and a SPIDER-MAN #50 signed by Stan Lee and John Romita?!? That is the part that none of us who work here can figure out. People are strange...
In hindsight, most readers who hear of the news are likely to be as stumped as Mile High's employees. Upon shattering the showcases (which contain the store's select, valuable items), why not toss everything into a box, and leave as quickly as possible? Perhaps the burglar was merely looking to add to their personal collection... ensuring the evidence will be in their possession when their image, prints, and DNA lead police to their door. Let's just be glad that real-life criminals aren't nearly as brilliant as the comic book variety.