A thief struck all three Ultimate Comics stores in the Triangle, taking merchandise and damaging display cases to the tune of $20,000, its owner said.
No word on super villain involvement.
Owner Alan Gill said he suspected the same person broke into the Raleigh, Cary and Durham stores on a spree that started late Sunday night and ended at 4 a.m. Monday.
The thief zeroed in on "hot toys," which Gill describes as upscale action figures based on Marvel characters that can cost $400 apiece. The suspect passed up some of the most valuable comics, including a $2,000 Flash, and seemed more intent on filling a personal collection.
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"It was almost as if he went on a shopping spree," Gill said. "He was after things that he wanted, if not necessarily the most expensive thing in the store. I've never seen or heard of that. If you're going to rob a place, you go for the most expensive stuff. Not this guy."
He attempted to have a sense of humor about the situation, as serious as it is to his business.
"And we would be remiss to say that even though this is a tragedy, one that we’re really only beginning to assess…how 'comic book' is it that we were 'struck by a crime wave?'" he wrote on the Ultimate Comics website.
Gill said he hadn't had trouble with crime since a break-in at his original Durham store 14 years ago. He said the string of burglaries "is definitely a setback for me." While insured, he expects to pay deductibles on all three stores.
Though he described himself as a scrappy local, Gill also organizes the N.C. Comicon, a convention celebrating the artists and characters, drawing top creators to the Triangle.
He asked supporters to consider moving up expected purchases, buy an extra title or spring for an exclusive Batman #50 title.
"Just pick up a comic, man."
Gill also is asking for people to report information, anonymous tips or otherwise, to ultimatecomics.com/contact.
The Raleigh store is on Capital Boulevard. The Cary story is on Buck Jones Road. The Durham location is on Farrington Road, off N.C. 54.