Crime & Courts

WWE referee’s massive horror movie memorabilia collection stolen in south Charlotte

WWE referee Charles Robinson scoured online auction sites for weeks, looking for his massive collection of memorabilia that he says was stolen from a south Charlotte storage unit. Now, he thinks an item being sold on eBay might offer a solid lead.

“I was really shocked when I opened the storage unit door and noticed that the place was a mess and stuff was missing,” Robinson told The Charlotte Observer. “I seriously felt like it was a nightmare, and once I realized this was really happening, I felt sick to my stomach. Then I got angry once I didn’t get any assistance from the storage company.”

In a 3-minute, WWE-produced YouTube video titled “House of Horrors, Charles Robinson’s Horror Room,” Robinson explained his love of all things horror. Robinson has 185,000 Twitter followers on his @WWERobinson account.

“When I buy stuff, I don’t buy it as a collector,” he said in the World Wrestling Entertainment video tour of his home. “I buy it because I like the movies, and it meant something to me growing up.”

Robinson put the total loss at $51,000, according to a list of the stolen items he inventoried for his insurance company and provided to The Observer.

The most expensive items stolen, he said, were

A complete “Fangoria” magazine collection, $5,000.

A Sideshow Collectibles “Jaws” statue, $2,374.

Several Evel Knievel toys from the 1970s still sealed in the original boxes, including a complete set of Evel Knievel miniatures with store display ($1,800) and an Evel Knievel CB Van ($1,200).

Hundreds of action figures -- from WWE icon Ric Flair to horror character Freddy Krueger -- and various life-size horror movie character busts. Some of those collectibles demand $300 or $400, according to the list.

“Planet of the Apes” collectibles, such as a sealed Milton Bradley board game ($125) and Cornelius and Gen. Ursus “blow mold banks,” ($110).

Robinson may have cracked the case Thursday night when he spotted what he believed to be the stolen “Jaws” statue. He said he offered an eBay seller $1,000, adding that he’d had a statue just like it stolen recently. The seller immediately removed the statue from the site, he said.

Robinson said Friday that he has updated the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department multiple times and notified eBay, which told him the sale was a police matter. Robinson said he was waiting to hear back about any additional findings.

Jaw and Night of the Living Dead Bust.jpg
These “Jaws and “Night of the Living Dead” busts were among hundreds of horror movie and other collectibles stolen from a South Charlotte storage unit rented by WWE referee Charles Robinson Charles Robinson

How items might have been stolen

Robinson said he discovered the theft May 28, about two months after he put almost two-thirds of his collection into the Extra Space Storage unit in the 9800 block of Ardrey Kell Road. He temporarily moved the items, which took decades to collect, into storage during home renovations, he said.

Soon after the theft, Robinson said he filed a police report . CMPD’s Crime Scene Investigation unit tried to get fingerprints from the scene but was not successful, Robinson said.

“We were trying to figure out how they had gotten into the unit, because my lock was still in the door,” Robinson told The Observer. “The lock is a cylindrical lock that fit into a hole in the door.

“After inspecting the area, we noticed that there is a two-foot or more section above the door. It has a thin piece of flimsy aluminum in the middle of that,” he said. “Apparently, someone can bend that back and crawl into the unit. Once inside, they just take a nut off of the back of the lock and gain access. The nut on the lock in my unit was missing.”

The Observer has requested the CPMD police report associated with this theft. Robinson provided his copy of the report.

In a statement, officials at Utah-based Extra Space Storage said: “The safety and security of our facilities is a top priority for Extra Space Storage. We are working with local authorities in the investigation of this unusual, targeted break-in.“

“I feel a great loss of what I have been collecting for so long, but there are others that have situations that are much worse than what I am going through,” Robinson told The Observer. “I have an excellent insurance company that is really looking out for me, although many items I can never replace. I guess in the big picture, I am really blessed. Things could be a lot worse.”

Joe Marusak has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1989 covering the people, municipalities and major news events of the region, and was a news bureau editor for the paper. He currently reports on breaking news.