45-year old Star Wars thief Carl Cunningham is going to jail for stealing an estimated $100 - $200 thousand dollars worth of rare Star Wars merchandise. Cunningham stole more than 100 pieces from the largest Star Wars private collection at the Rancho Obi-Wan in Northern California over the course of two years from 2015 to 2017. Stephen J. Sansweet runs the Rancho Obi-Wan as a non-profit organization that donates money from tours to local and national charities and earlier this year he was alerted that some of his pieces were for sale (or had already been sold) on EBay.
Sansweet considered Carl Cunningham to be a friend, but it soon became obvious that Cunningham was indeed the thief. According to The Petaluma Patch, Cunningham pleaded guilty to one count of felony grand theft, which can land him up to four years in prison along with 3 years of formal probation. He will be sentenced on September 7th and will more than likely end up with a full 4-year sentence, with a chance of only 2 years with good behavior. Cunningham might want to start thinking of a fictional backstory for when he arrives to prison other than "I stole a bunch of action figures."
Sansweet became aware of the theft after a rare Boba Fett action figure with rocket firing capabilities was tracked from its buyer to the seller, one Carl Cunningham. As stated before, Sansweet considered Cunningham to be "a good and trusted friend" and hosted him at the Rancho Obi-Wan many times over the years, never thinking that the man would end up robbing him blind. Most of the items were vintage U.S. and foreign carded action figures, all rare and very pricey. In addition, Cunningham also stole merchandise from Raiders of the Last Ark and The Goonies as well. Cunningham surrendered after an arrest warrant was served in June of this year.
It is not clear what the exact value of everything that Cunningham stole, but the amount of jail time and the mention of the word felony puts the number easily over $100,000 and or even up to $200,000 as Sansweet estimates. Grand theft is known as a "wobbler" in the state of California, which means that it can easily get knocked down to a misdemeanor with no jail time, but it appears that the judge presiding over the case decided to wobble over to the felony side of things. Cunningham will more than likely only serve 2 out of the 4 years if he behaves himself in prison and agrees to pay all fines off in a timely manner.
Sansweet is still on the hunt to regain the missing pieces of his collection, even the pieces that had been sold off on EBay and has asked that people contact him directly at the Rancho Obi-Wan website with any information. The Rancho is still open to the public and will remain to be open during this time, minus a few hundred pieces that Cunningham "liberated" from the collection. If you have any information regarding the stolen pieces, please email Sansweet at [email protected]