I was hoping to hold off posting this until it was 100% sorted with both the police and the insurance company. In fact I was considering not going public with it at all, as stories like this do nothing but harm the collecting community, and I don't make a habit of falling out with people. However due to this post made on SWCC tonight and the subsequent influx of PMs I've had on various forums about it, I need to post my side of the story.
You may remember that back in 2007, I had approximately 70 carded figures stolen in a burglary at my parents house, which included a near-complete tri logo set, and an extensive Luke Bespin focus including many foreign MOCs, a couple of which were the only known examples. The figures were worth approximately £10,000 GBP. I had been collecting for over 10 years, and owned some of the figures stolen since 1994. If you missed the story, here's the original threads:
A collectors worst nightmare - I've been robbed
My stolen collection - List of what was taken
Fast forward nearly 5 years to January of this year. Somebody on my forum makes a post about an unusual tri logo on ebay, and by pure chance, Eagle-eyed Joe spotted it was one of my stolen figures. Here's the thread:
Star Wars Forum - Vintage Star Wars Collecting Forum - StarWarsForum.co.uk • View topic - Factory Error Tri Logo on Ebay!
I'm not going to post the entire story, you can figure out most of it by reading the above thread, but in short it turned out that Ben, owner of the SWCC forum, had sold at least 9 of my stolen figures over the past year or so, and still had 11 in his possession. It's worth mentioning that I not only knew Ben in the collecting world, but had also known him personally since I was a teenager. He lived in my home town, was friends with my brother, and had even been to my house before.
As I knew him, the first thing I did was contact Ben himself rather than go straight to the police. How did he come to be in possession of at least 20 of my 70 stolen figures? His story is that he bought them from a car boot sale (flea market) shortly after the theft. When he bought them, he claims he did not know they were stolen. His story up to this point may well be true, I have never contested it.
What I have to make absolutely clear is that unfortunately, the story is not quite as clear cut as it sounds in the SWCC statement. Did he come to me when he realised the figures he had were my stolen property? No. Did he stop selling them when he discovered they were stolen? No. Did he offer to share some of the hundreds/thousands of pounds he'd made from selling them with me? No. And most importantly in my eyes, when offered the opportunity by me to do the right thing and give them back, did he do the right thing? No. There was very little cooperation or remorse shown, which left me with no choice but to go to the police.
So the good news is that I have at least some closure on what happened to my collection, and it looks like I will be getting some of my figures back in the near future, once it's been settled with the insurance company who made a pay out on the theft back in 2007.
I'm not posting this as a 'Watch Out' thread, in fact I've left out a lot of details that I have no wish to share online, so I hope he can put this whole situation down to experience without turning it into a big online slagging match. I'm posting this because sooner or later I may be limelighting or selling these figures, and understandably people are going to want to know how I have come to own them again.
That's all for now, all I can say is that I'm thrilled at the thought of getting even a fraction of my once large collection back, and that I owe a huge, huge thanks to Joe for the initial spot, and several other members of my forum who helped me trace some of the figures (who are welcome to step forward if they want to.) It's not the nicest story, but I'm pleased to say that some good has come of it.