A Villain Burglarized All Three Ultimate Comics Stores Last Night | Arts

A Villain Burglarized All Three Ultimate Comics Stores Last Night

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PHOTO COURTESY OF ALAN GILL
  • photo courtesy of Alan Gill
It was about ten o'clock last night when Ultimate Comics owner Alan Gill got word from two employees returning from a convention that his flagship store, on the border of Durham and Chapel Hill, was a shambles. A window was shattered, as were many of the “geek boxes” inside—the glass cases housing the most precious items—and there were clearly toys and comics missing.

But what at first looked like a simple smash and grab quickly became more complicated. When Gill reached the store, which he lives across the street from, he realized the thief had specifically targeted the brand called Hot Toys, which can cost hundreds of dollars—and not any of the Star Wars or DC Comics ones, just the Marvel ones. The comic books that were missing also betrayed discrimination.

PHOTO COURTESY OF ALAN GILL
  • photo courtesy of Alan Gill
“He broke each geek box just to take a comic or two out of each,” Gill says. “He stole a hundred-dollar comic that was right next to a two-thousand-dollar comic. He was picking stuff he wanted.”

While Gill was with the police at the Durham store, he received an alert on his phone that his Cary store was being broken into. He called 911 and headed straight there, arriving sometime after eleven. He found the large pane-glass window smashed. A security video captured someone that Gill says looked like a man.

“We could see what he did: came in the window, went straight to the Hot Toys, grabbing ones he wanted,” Gill says.

In Cary, Gill logged on to the security system in his Raleigh store and discovered that the cameras weren’t working, so he drove there. Everything looked fine. He went home and went to sleep but was woken up by another phone alert at about four in the morning. His Raleigh store had just been broken into. The thief again cleared out the Marvel Hot Toys.

“The police got there in five minutes, but the guy took what he wanted in sixty seconds and got out,” Gill says.

PHOTO COURTESY OF ALAN GILL
  • photo courtesy of Alan Gill
The targeting of all three Ultimate locations and not any other area comic shops suggests the possibility of someone with a relationship to the company, like a former employee or a customer. But Gill thinks it’s simply that Ultimate is the only place in the area that carries the Hot Toys the thief clearly prized. He doesn’t suspect the stolen merchandise will show up on the black market, believing it destined to fill gaps in a private collection.

Ultimate Comics is insured, but collector value is tricky to prove, and each shop has to pay its own deductible. Gill estimates the overall loss at around $20,000. Though weary from the ordeal, he’s already starting to turn it into a comic book story.

“We’re calling him the Trinity Thief,” Gill says, chuckling. “It’s not the end of the world, it just sucks. But my customer base, if everyone buys one extra comic this week, that’s it.”

Despite the damage, Ultimate opened at eleven this morning. Our heroes!

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