Police were initially stumped. Casas says they told him there had been a series of storage unit burglaries lately, but no one had been arrested. In his case, he had rented the locker to clear some space while renovating his home and only learned after the theft that his unit was in a part of the facility that was not covered by surveillance cameras.
The thieves left behind his old dresser and an exercise machine. On the ground, Casas spotted his ruined Master Lock.
Still, he was hopeful about seeing his comics again. One summer, his Dodge Caravan was stolen four times, and it was recovered four times, he says. His house had also been burglarized in the past, and he got his stuff back that time, too. The comics, he knew, would be tougher to trace.
"All that stuff had serial numbers," he says of his past stolen possessions. "This was like 3,000 pieces of paper."
Working in Casas' favor was a relatively new business venture. More than a year ago, he opened Apotheosis Comics & Lounge (3206 S. Grand Boulevard, 314-802-7090), a combination comic book store and bar. After the theft, Casas told his staff that if anyone called with an offer to sell a collection, tell them he was definitely interested.