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Star Wars was the movie that showed just how valuable that the merchandise associated with a movie can actually be. It turns out that it's so valuable that somebody was willing to steal it. The president of Rancho Obi-Wan, the largest Star Wars memorabilia collection in the world is reporting that he is missing 100 pieces from his collection, some of which have already been resold by the thief.
Rancho Obi-Wan is run by Steve Sansweet who was in charge of fan relations at Lucasfilm for 15 years. Yesterday, a letter was posted to the non-profit's website which informed followers of the theft. Sansweet was made aware of the theft after another collector, who was also a friend, reported the theft of a rare Boba Fett action figure from his own collection in Texas. Then, a toy collector in Southern CA responded that he had recently purchased the same figure from a third party. The toy collector then said that he had purchased several other pieces from the same individual, and those pieces were traced back to the Rancho Obi-Wan collection in Petaluma, CA.
The most heartbreaking part is that, in this case, the perpetrator was actually known, and considered a friend. The theft of over 100 items, valued at over $200,000 apparently took place over several months as the person in question was a guest of Steve Sansweet. In fact, the thefts were discovered back in February but Rancho Obi-Wan is only reporting them now because the person in question has been arrested and has reportedly been charged with felony grand theft.
Rancho Obi-Wan is now working to attempt to recover the stolen merchandise, although, at this point, it's unclear how easy that will be. Several of the pieces were resold and so it's unclear if the suspect still had any of them in his possession when he was arrested. The good news is that, based on the relationship that Rancho Obi-Wan apparently has with other dealers and collectors, there's a good chance that they have an idea where the pieces may have been resold. Then it's just a matter of reaching out to them to see what they may have unknowingly purchased. Since receiving stolen property is a crime unto itself, these dealers will likely lose the money that they paid for the items, which simply increases the number of victims of the theft.
It's sad to something so terrible going on around something that's supposed to be fun. Whether you just collect Star Wars stuff, or actually enjoyed playing with them (because we didn't know this stuff was going to be worth money in the 80s), Star Wars is supposed to be fun. Hopefully, everything that was taken will be recovered and Rancho Obi-Wan can put this experience behind them.