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Star Wars superfan Steve Sansweet issues plea after $200,000 theft

Steve Sansweet, owner of Rancho Obi-Wan, the world's largest private collection of Star Wars memorabilia, pictured on 24 November, 2015 Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Steve Sansweet owns Rancho Obi-Wan, the world's largest private collection of Star Wars memorabilia

The owner of the world's biggest Star Wars memorabilia collection has appealed to fans for help after items worth $200,000 (£154,900) were stolen from him.

Steve Sansweet, who runs Rancho Obi-Wan museum in California, said more than 100 pieces had gone missing.

In a post online, he said many of the collectibles had already been resold.

Star Wars actors Mark Hamill and Peter Mayhew have both rallied behind the collector on Twitter.

Mr Sansweet, whose museum houses at least 350,000 artefacts linked to his beloved films, is a former head of fan relations at Lucasfilm, the studio that produced the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises.

Mr Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in the film franchise, wrote: "Maybe publish a list of stolen items to protect potential victims from purchasing 'hot' merchandise. #TheFraudIsStrongInThisOne #SithHappens."

Chewbacca actor Mr Mayhew said: "This is despicable. Keep an eye out. Get the word out."

Mr Sansweet said the stolen items included vintage action figures, "many of them rare and important pieces".

He said they were taken surreptitiously over many months in late 2015 and 2016.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Sansweet keeps around 350,000 Star Wars artefacts in his non-profit museum in California
Image copyright AFP
Image caption The collector said many of the stolen items had already been re-sold

He urged fans with information on the missing items to email tips@ranchoobiwan.org.

Police have arrested another Star Wars collector, 45-year-old Carl Edward Cunningham, in connection with the crime. He has been charged with felony grand theft.

Mr Sansweet, who considered the fellow fan a longstanding friend, said he was "devastated".

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