Arrest made in 'Star Trek' costume case

September 21, 1990|By Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES -- A 25-year-old Los Angeles resident, described by police as a fan of the popular television "Star Trek" series, has been arrested for possession of costumes allegedly stolen from Paramount Studios in Hollywood.

The arrest was the first related to a series "Star Trek" thefts over the past two years, Los Angeles police said.

Officers said they found Kevin Buehler with $50,000 worth of costumes and hardware from the original television series and its descendants, "Star Trek: The Next Generation," and various "Star Trek" movies.

The gear is all that has been recovered so far of $150,000 of wardrobe items believed taken from Paramount, where "Star Trek" is filmed, police said.

Buehler was arrested last week, and has since pleaded not guilty to possession of stolen goods. He currently is in custody at the L.A. County Jail, with bail set at $50,000.

Police said they were led to Buehler by another "Star Trek" fan incensed that Buehler was peddling ill-gotten treasures from one of the most popular American television shows.

A studio fan from childhood, Buehler wanted to swap the Star Trek items for the informant's car, a replica from another show, according to police.

Buehler told police that he bought the items from another collector, officers said. Although he served an eight-month prison term in 1987 for breaking into Paramount Studios the year before, Buehler has not been implicated in the recent rash of "Star Trek" burglaries.

While there are every manner of "Star Trek" reproductions, from plates to phasers, the real artifiacts are considered rare and valuable treasures by the "Trekkies," as the show's thousands of hard-core devotees are known.

"What he's got from 20 years ago, it's like lost treasure," said Gary Berman of Creation Conventions, a Mineola, N.Y., firm that stages 70 "Star Trek" and science fiction conventions a year around the country. "It's like the guy who looked in the ocean for gold and finally found it."

Berman said he is periodically approached at the conventions by people wanting to sell him authentic "Star Trek" regalia. He added: "We always ask for proof of how they've gotten it. ... The word is out that stuff was missing from Paramount."

"The market on collectibles of this type of stuff has gone through the roof," Berman continued.

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