Cops: FSU Library Security Chief Stole $500K in Comics

Todd Peak is accused of lifting rare titles from Strozier Library throughout the pandemic
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 8, 2022 3:35 PM CST
Hired to Protect FSU's Rare Books, He Allegedly Stole 5K
Florida State University's Strozier Library is pictured here.   (Wikimedia Commons/WhisperToMe)

As head of security of Florida State University's Strozier Library, Todd Peak held one of four keys to access a $500,000 collection of prized science fiction, fantasy, horror, and comic book titles. He also apparently held little appreciation for his job, even after being deemed an essential worker during the pandemic. According to police, Peak stole nearly 5,000 rare comic books from the Robert M. Ervin Jr. Collection, which was kept behind a locked chain-link fence, beginning in March 2020. He also allegedly sold the stolen titles to private buyers and comic book stores over two years, earning him tens of thousands of dollars.

The owners of Wilde Comics and Gaming in Crawfordville purchased thousands of dollars worth of comics from Peak before noticing that several of the titles he was offering—including rare issues from the Batman series and a rare German copy of Mickey Mouse—were among 4,996 items that FSU listed as missing from its archives as of September, per the Tallahassee Democrat. "It is too great of a coincidence that Peak works at Strozier Library where the comic books were stolen and just so happened to possess all the same comic books listed as stolen," the owners told investigators, per the outlet. Peak had worked through the pandemic, even when the library closed to the public, per WTXL.

The first items were lifted on March 17, 2020, per WCTV. Authorities say they found Facebook messages in which Peak negotiated their sale, alongside 448 Google searches for information on the titles. These were "very distinct to the Ervin collection and not the searches of an average comic book collector," court documents read, per WTXL. The 38-year-old, who's no longer employed by the university, was arrested Friday on charges of grand theft of more than $100,000, fraud, dealing in stolen property, and sale of stolen property via the internet. Only 2,843 comics have been recovered, police say. (More Florida State University stories.)

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