Is Iron Man Too Rusty To Stop Comic Book Thefts?

home security iron man

Comic books are more valuable than ever, and, like any magical object, this means that they (and their caretakers!) are in greater and greater danger. The bad news? Iron Man can't pop out of the pages and rescue you. The good news? There are some easy things you can do to protect yourself and your stash. Whether you keep your comics in a controlled-climate case or in a shoebox under your bed, here are some tricks you can use to make sure bad guys keep their grubby paws off them.

Man of Steal

Some people know their calling early. Mike Meyers has been a Superman superfan since he bought his first comic in 1974 (he was ten, and it was twenty cents). Over the next 37 years, he collected all the Superman swag he could find, including board games, a lava lamp, several Lunch Boxes Of Steel — and over 1,800 comic books. He has a hand-sewn Superman outfit hanging on his back door, underneath a Clark Kent trenchcoat. His dogs are named Dyno and Krypto. But for every Superman, there's a lurking Lex Luthor — in this case, Gerry Armbruster, a former coworker of Meyers who heard about his collection and concocted an evil plan. Armbruster got himself and his girlfriend invited over, and while the dame distracted Meyers, Armbruster emptied out his vault. But, as Meyers put it, "justice was served" — after the story got national attention, comic book fans everywhere helped Meyers rebuild his collection (and then some), and Armbruster got busted. (Good thing, too, or someone would have had to call in the Big Man.)

Tip: Stay Undercover

While Meyers's issue had a happy ending, others who make the same mistake aren't so lucky. When Homer Marciniak turned 77, he decided to sell his $70,000 comic collection in order to leave the money to his family. But Marciniak was too trusting while shopping around, and word got out. That night, thieves broke into his home, roughed him up, and relieved him of his collection. Marciniak died of a heart attack the next day. If you've got a valuable collection:

  • Keep it on the down-low. Just like you don't want to plaster Facebook with boasts about your new TV, don't blab about your stash at parties or share your eBay forays with all your Twitter followers.
  • Educate yourself about the value of what you have, so you don't accidentally leave a paper gold mine out on your kitchen table.
  • Pay attention to your Spidey Sense. It's there for a reason. If someone seems too interested in that rare Green Lantern mini-series, they probably are.

Comic-Gone

Soak up enough comic books and a little super is bound to rub off on you. Vendor Matt Nelson was representing Worldwide Comics at a New York convention when he spotted a pair of thieves swiping a bunch of comics from his table. Nelson trailed the dastardly duo and cornered one of them, grabbing the comic out of his hands and sending him running to the escalator, which he took "six steps at a time" — until he reached the bottom and was arrested by security guards. A conventioneer managed a similar feat in 2012, when he caught a couple of thugs stealing original art and sicced "a giant" on them. The anonymous Robin was rewarded with some signed swag.

Tip: Vigilance Is Key

Comic book conventions are like heaven for collectors, but don't get too giddy — thieves love them too. All the commotion, enthusiasm, and money changing hands make it easy for villains to slip away with your prized merchandise, and there won't always be vigilantes to stop them. Try the following tips:
  • Invest in bolts and security straps for your most expensive goods, as well as any electronic equipment.
  • If you must store things underneath your table, keep them in a box so they're easy to keep track of.
  • Have a sidekick manning the booth — one of you can chat people up while the other watches everyone's hands.
  • Don't get distracted by the crazy costumes. The actual villains usually aren't dressed like Mr. Freeze.

The Avengers Pt. 2

If you're going to shoplift, it's probably not a great idea to do it in Spiderman's store. But that's exactly what one man did in 2010, when he interpreted "Free Comic Book Day" a little too literally and tried to walk out with a $150 X-Men title in his backpack. Storeowner Michael Baulderstone, who was dressed like Spidey for the holiday, crept around the store behind the guy and then netted his bag. When the thief tried to flee, several Jedi Knights held the door until the police arrived. "My colleague, who was dressed as The Flash, kept running the shop," Baulderstone reported. Presumably The Hulk was unloading boxes in the back.

Tip: Your Own Mini Batcave

Whether it's to steal cash, expensive comics, or Magic cards, people steal from comic book shops all the time. If you're a shopowner, you could commit to dressing like a superhero every day — or you could take some simple preventative measures and avoid sacrificing the respect of your peers.

  • Wireless security. A good security system can turn a mild-mannered shop into the Fortress of Solitude.
  • Cameras are super, too — if something goes missing, you can see exactly where it went. Plus when you have your own Spiderman moment, they're there to help make you famous.
  • Consider putting fakes in your display cases. Non-experts often can't tell the difference between a priceless original and a $2 knockoff. Keep the real stuff locked up in the back until the die-hards ask for it, and let the smash-and-grabbers be disappointed when they get their new loot appraised.

Got a prized comic or a superhero story? Tell us in the comments!

SimpliSafe blogger extrodaniare Cara Giaimo

Cara Giaimo

A man's home is his castle, as they say, and no matter what kind of castle you have, I'm here to help you fortify it. When I'm not blogging, you can usually find me running, jamming with friends, or making strange types of ice cream.

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