Filmmaker Finds His Stolen Emmy On Craigslist, Helps Set Up Sting Operation To Get It Back

Police say they nabbed a dim-witted thief who stole a unique piece of hardware— an Emmy— and listed the award on Craigslist, leading authorities straight to the statue after they arranged to buy it.

Acclaimed documentary maker Brett Hansen said he discovered his two Emmys were missing from his burglarized storage unit in Olympia, Washington on Feb. 17.

“I went down to my storage unit one day… and my lock was different. I thought ‘Oh, that’s weird,’” he told InsideEdition.com.

When he asked the company about the new lock, they said they had no idea who put it there and helped him bust it open.

“All my stuff was gone. It took me a few hours to realize the Emmys were gone. I think they slowly took their time and took anything they wanted, like a shopping spree,” Hansen said.

Hansen’s work on documentaries about drones and genetically modified organisms earned him the prestigious awards, which authorities told him would not likely be found.

“The police said this stuff changes hands in seconds,” Hansen said.

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Not quick to give up, Hansen and his coworker decided to search for the awards on Craigslist and soon found one of his trophies on the site.  

“I typed in ‘Emmy’ and the first hit we got, there it is,” Hansen said. “(It said) ‘Emmy without a plate on it, the plate has been removed.’ They’re basically saying ‘it’s stolen.’”

Emmy award recipients are not allowed to sell their statues, according to strict guidelines by the organizations that dole out the awards.

“It must be transferred to your heir if you die,” Hansen said.

But the contraband was listed on Craigslist for $3,500, and Hansen pounced, embarking on a documentary-worthy journey to get his Emmy back.

Hansen emailed back and forth with the seller, who eventually offered to take off $500 from the price if he would buy it immediately.

“We gave all that (information) to the detectives. They said ‘we’ll just call him.’ They called for me… and the seller never returned the phone call and suddenly the Craigslist ad disappeared,” Hansen said, thinking that his award was once again lost forever.

“Then four days later I get an email from the seller (saying) ‘Hey are you still interested? Where have you been?’” Hansen said. “It was back on.”

After another back-and-forth among the seller, Hansen and police, they arranged to make the sale that night.

“We immediately drove over to the parking lot and hid in the bushes, filming… because we’re documentarians,” he laughed. “But the moment the true pull-over was happening, he (the seller) was texting me, ‘where are you? I don’t see your car’ and I’m asking the detective ‘am I here? When am I there?’”

Three people were in the seller’s vehicle, he said.

“Clearly the people who had this Emmy didn’t win it. And their stories about how they got it were questionable at best,” Lt. Paul Lower told The State. “They all told us something different.”

One person was arrested on an outstanding felony warrant and the other two were interviewed, The State reported.

Police took custody of the Emmy as part of their investigation, Hansen said.

“I think the black market value is way higher than (the actual value). It’s not solid gold. It’s a trophy. Why would you even steal something like that? The only person who wants the Emmy is the person who had it stolen from them,” Hansen laughed.

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He also plans to contact the awarding organization to have his second Emmy reissued.

“Maybe I could track it down,” he joked, saying this entire ordeal would make a great documentary. “It makes a great story.”

He cautioned any would-be thieves from stealing an Emmy from a filmmaker, saying “a, you might get caught. And b, you’ll probably get video-taped getting arrested.”

A few thousand dollars’ worth of property, including a new bike and power tools, was also taken from Hansen’s storage unit, which was the only one found burglarized, he said.

“I was the only one which is why I’m definitely getting a new storage unit facility,” Hansen said. The Emmys, however, will from now on be kept in his home.

“It won’t go in the storage unit, I can tell you that’s for sure," he said.

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