Former Disney employee accused of stealing parks' costumes

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A former Walt Disney World employee with backstage access stole about $14,000 worth of costumes and items from the Magic Kingdom and Epcot theme parks, authorities said Friday.

Patrick Allen Spikes, 24, faces burglary, grand theft, and trafficking in stolen property charges, news outlets reported.

The Orange County Sheriff's office said it began investigating Spikes when he posted a picture on Twitter of a retired animatronic character wearing its clothes two months after the reported theft of the robot's garments . Spikes had created a social media platform to post Disney backstage content for movie and theme parks aficionados.

The stolen items belonged to "Buzzy," a character from the now-closed "Wonders of Life" attraction at Epcot, investigators said. The estimated value of the items is more than $6,800. The entire animatronic was later stolen, according to Friday's arrest warrant.

Detective said a search warrant for Spikes' cellphone turned up photos of stolen Disney wigs, skirts and jackets. Spikes used underground tunnels to get to Magic Kingdom's Haunted Mansion, where costumes were stolen, the arrest warrant says.

Financial records showed that Spikes received about $30,000 via PayPal from two buyers, investigators said. One of the buyers told detectives he had paid Spikes about $8,900 for 18 items that were later confirmed by the company to have also been stolen. The buyer turned over the stolen goods, which he said he thought had been legally obtained. One of those costumes is listed in the arrest warrant.

Detectives are still investigating and trying to track down the rest of the items that have been documented as stolen.

Jail records didn't list an attorney for Spikes.

In an email, Disney said the case was a "law enforcement matter."

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Information from: Orlando Sentinel, http://www.orlandosentinel.com/