Comics dealer says $85,000 in books stolen at Tampa convention

TAMPA, Fla. – You could call it a comic caper. Comic books worth tens of thousands of dollars vanished from the Tampa Bay Comic Con, a dealer and officials say.

Tampa police are investigating. Rick Whitelock, of Panama City, said he brought several boxes of books to the Comic Con on Thursday and left them in the locked convention center overnight, police said. When he began preparing his booth Friday, one box was missing.

The stolen comics include the Amazing Fantasy No. 15 from 1962, which features the first appearance of Spider-Man. That comic is valued between $15,995 to $20,995. Whitelock is missing Incredible Hulk No. 1, priced at $14,995, and a copy of Brave and the Bold No. 28, which Whitelock was selling for $15,000. That last one includes the first appearance of the Justice League team made up of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and The Flash.

SEE MORE: 2016 Comic Con Convention in Tampa

The total value of the missing comics is around $85,000.

“Panic would be the first thing to come to mind,” Whitelock said about realizing the comics were missing. “I’ve done 100+ conventions and this is the same way I do it every single time.”

The boxes were chained down and left inside metal walls, Whitelock said. He said that he and his staff and other vendors did have access to the boxes.

No other dealers experienced issues, he added.

Whitelock said the convention center’s head of security said surveillance video didn’t yield any clues. “If there’s a thief that wants something, they will find a way to get it,” he told News Channel 8.

While he said he prays it was a mistake, Whitelock said he’s being realistic. “Sometimes again, there’ll be windows of opportunity no matter how careful you are,” he said.

It would be difficult for someone to sell the comic books, Whitelock said, because they are unique. Someone would spot the comics and alert authorities, he said.

The comics are insured.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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