The mystery of the missing Epcot animatronic called Buzzy may have been solved at last, thanks in part to the fact that the alleged thief wasn’t very thorough in covering his tracks. Patrick Allen Spikes, a former Disney employee, was arrested on Friday for stealing $14,000 worth of props and memorabilia from the parks, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
In addition to working at the park, Spikes ran a Twitter account called @BackdoorDisney (now deleted), that included behind-the-scenes pictures. But according to the police archive, he also couldn’t resist taking photos of the items he allegedly lifted from the parks. He also appears to have made some serious cash by selling them.
ARRESTED: Patrick Spikes, 24, sits behind bars and faces charges of burglary, grand theft, and dealing in stolen property. He entered a restricted area of Disney, stole over $7,000 in items and resold them. Special thanks to the tireless efforts of our Sector 6 detectives. pic.twitter.com/ih3SaewzsN
— Orange County Sheriff's Office (@OrangeCoSheriff) May 17, 2019
Last August, Disney told the Orange County Sheriff’s Office that clothing from Buzzy, a character from the Cranium Command attraction in the Wonders of Life pavilion, had been stolen. The pavilion had been closed for 10 years, but the park was planning to put Buzzy in a historic archive. In October, according to an affidavit from Detective David Foro posted to local site Orlando Rising, Spikes shared a photo of Buzzy still wearing his clothing. Disney security also apparently told the detective that there were other photos of stolen items on his phone.
Disney reported that Buzzy himself was missing too in November. When this news made it to the public in December, the animatronic’s disappearance had Disney fans on Twitter periodically posting the #FindBuzzy hashtag. In the meantime, Spikes allegedly sent pics of Buzzy’s clothing in his own vehicle, along with a tan backpack the detective believes was used to smuggle it out of the park, to a fellow employee. That was enough to lead police to confront him and seize his phone. After this happened, Spikes took to social to say he was being unfairly targeted.
This is Buzzy. He used to be a part of Cranium Command at EPCOT before the attraction closed. He was to be saved as a part of Disney parks history.
He has been stolen. If you recognize him or know of his whereabouts or see listings on merchant sites contact OCPD! pic.twitter.com/0VLKarhbtH
— Miss Moth (@MissMothTweets) December 22, 2018
“Spikes would later make a YouTube video about this search, but when he showed the warrant in the video, he digitally altered the search warrant to remove the tan bag and the animatronic clothing from the section of the warrant that lists the evidence being sought in the house,” the affidavit states. “The fact that Spikes altered the warrant for his video and only removed these two items indicate that he was aware these items were used in a crime.”
This is when this case really heated up, and police were able to look at Spikes’ financial records and deleted photos. They found evidence that he had received almost $30,000 on PayPal from two different sources. One of those sources was quick to tell police all about what he’d bought from Spikes (thinking, coughcough, that it was all aboveboard), including a ball gown that had been reported stolen from Disney World’s Haunted Mansion ride.
The recovered phone photos were even juicier: They showed Spikes and his cousin behind-the-scenes of the Haunted Mansion wearing costumes and a wig that were later reported stolen. A photo taken later that day geo-tagged in nearby Kissimmee showed the cousin’s girlfriend wearing a tiara taken from the ride. The estimated value of all the missing Haunted Mansion items is $7,216, so those buyers really overpaid.
None of the affidavit indicates what happened to Buzzy and his clothing (estimated value: $6,814), so this isn’t cleared up entirely. Some on Twitter seem to believe that Spikes stole only the Haunted Mansion items, not Buzzy. If that’s the case, the mystery continues.
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