Founder releases surveillance video of burglary at Hall of Heroes Museum
ELKHART, Ind. (WNDU) - The founder of the Hall of Heroes Museum in Elkhart has a message for the burglars who targeted the non-profit: Turn yourself in.
Founder Allen Stewart shared surveillance video with 16 News Now that shows two people breaking into the museum just after 2 a.m. Sunday. He says eight display cases were broken into in a matter of minutes, with several early Marvel comics stolen. Among them was the first issue of Captain America from 1941, which Stewart says was one of just two on display for the public at museums.
Stewart believes those responsible for the crime visited his museum prior to the burglary and had a plan for what they would take.
“They obviously had been here, they obviously cased our museum, they knew exactly what to grab,” he says.
The museum is now working with a network of comic book shops, pawn shops, and collectors across the country to watch for anyone trying to sell the collectibles. However, Stewart would prefer the burglars do the right thing.
“Return these books. This is history you’ve stolen,” he explains. “You’ve stolen history that’s irreplaceable and that we share with the public and it needs to come back.”
Stewart says if the burglars return the items in the same condition they were in, the repercussions could be less severe.
If the items are not returned, they will be a complete loss—and may not be replaceable because of how rare they are. The museum was unable to insure the one-of-a-kind comics because the cost of the insurance would be higher than they can afford.
“We are a small non-profit. We have a limited budget,” says Stewart. “To insure a collection like this is astronomically high, and we just do not have it in the budget. We have to choose with our budget what we can do and what we can’t do.”
After the burglary, Stewart has moved the other most rare comics to a secure location away from the museum.
Stewart has been building his collection for decades, even before opening the museum. One of the items stolen was an issue of Captain America #37 autographed by Allen Bellman, an artist whom Stewart was very close with before he passed away in 2020.
“The only captain America comic book that I had with his signature—taken. He was like my grandfather to me. And for that to be taken is just… we want this stuff back. We need it back,” says the museum’s founder.
Stewart says this isn’t just his loss—but a loss for the entire community.
“We really never thought that someone would target us, a non-profit that is trying to preserve history and give back to the community,” he explains. “These thieves didn’t steal just from me or from our business, they stole from the community because we are a big history museum.”
The Hall of Heroes is accepting donations on a GoFundMe. The money raised will fund repairs to the damaged display cases and doors, plus increased security measures. Contributions can be made here.
In the surveillance video, the burglars can be heard saying “Am I good?” and “We gotta go!”. Stewart hopes that someone will recognize these voices and can help bring the perpetrators to justice.
Elkhart Police tell 16 News Now that at this time, no arrests have been made, and the case remains under investigation. Anyone with information about those responsible for the burglary or regarding the missing memorabilia can call the Elkhart Police Department at 574-295-7070. Anonymous tips can also be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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