PASO ROBLES — Ron Daniels, owner of Daniels Woodland in Paso Robles is offering a $2,000 reward for the recovery of eight missing Mickey Mouse statuettes and possibly some of the not-so-famous but still endearing character, Jiminy Cricket.
The statuettes are licensed by Disney® and Daniel’s Woodland was contracted to produce them for retail sale. The statuettes are worth $1,500 each in the retail market, a total of value of $12,000.
“Thing is we knew on x date (sic) that we had 50 Mickeys done, we didn’t even have a count on Jiminy,” said Mark Van Klaveren, one of the modelers in charge of production.
According to Van Klaveren, as the statuettes were produced they were stored neatly in a seatrain in the production yard of the facility. After several weeks of working on the statuettes, carefully counting as the items were completed, and storing them in the seatrain, “all the sudden I went in there and there were holes. I had them all put in there in order like an army, one next to the other where they were all like this (Van Klaveren indicates the making of rows with his arms) and there were holes in the middle. So I decided to count and there were eight missing. Eight Mickeys and I don’t know how many Jiminys because we never had a count,” said a flustered Van Klaveren.
The company keeps the seatrain unlocked during the day due to the fact that there are always employees on that part of the property, however, due to where the employees actually spend most of their time and work during the day, there is a blindspot to the opening of the seatrain from their point of view, said Van Klaveren.
“We’re all here, but we’re all sitting here and can’t see,” he said. “There’s a possibility it could have happened during the day or right after work.”
And since Daniels Woodland offers free scrap firewood to the public, non-personnel could have had access to the statuettes.
“The seatrains are always locked up at night so it didn’t happen then,” said Daniels Woodland Art Director Edward Walton Wilcox. “Because the seatrains are always locked up at night, we can only conclude it was done in broad daylight with people around or by someone who would have access to the keys.”
When asked if he thought it might be an inside job, head welder Michael Muse responded, “I don’t know. Could be. I don’t think the natural public is aware of this situation, so more than likely it’s an inside job.”
Just then, Amy Daniels, head of purchasing, interjected that information regarding the manufacturing of the pieces was published previous to the theft in a press release written by Nate Calloway, the producer of the company’s past network reality show “Redwood Kings” and now in development “Cabin Brothers.” Thereby implying that by advertising that the statuettes were in production, someone may have come looking for them.
The statuettes were made from old growth redwood (approximately 2,000 years old), carved on an elaborate, automated hand-mill and hand finished, which significantly adds to their uniqueness and value. A significant number of man hours went into each piece.
In regard to the loss directly suffered by Daniels Woodland, one of the lead artists, Bouba Boumaiz, responded, “I don’t know, well it’s about 10K in loss. But I think Van Clybourn just miscounted.”
“Johnny Daniels and I counted the items a week before and Johnny confirmed yes, we had 25 in there. So there were indeed eight missing,” Van Klaveren said. “We absolutely did not miscount. It was counted by three different people. There’s no paperwork, no brands on the bottom, no boxes. They will be easy to spot.”
Whether Van Klaveren miscounted or not, Disney® is taking the matter very seriously. They have a team of cyber sleuths that are currently “scanning the channels” just waiting for them to pop up for sale.
“So basically it’s like sitting on pirates booty,” Wilcox said. “They are going have to hide them for a long time before they can try to sell them being that they are the only ones that left the facility unmarked, without the branding stamp on them.”
“The thief always makes a mistake and in this case they took the pieces before the ‘branding’ process, where the statuettes are stamped on the bottom, like cattle, making them official licensed Disney® products,” Wilcox continued. “And even if they weren’t stolen, just to sell the pieces in that condition is illegal.”
“Johnny and I have been searching Craigslist and Ebay but nothing has popped up yet,” Van Klaveren said. “And yes, I think they were stolen for resale. Why would he take eight unless you are planning on reselling? I mean if you took one to give to your kid that’s different. Unless eight people out there took one each. That’s possible —I guess. There’s so many variables to deal with that you know?”
If you have any information regarding the case of the missing Mickeys, contact Dana Morris at 805-239-2832 or [email protected]
You may contact reporter Madeline Vail at [email protected]