Malaysian students forced to return stolen Homer Simpson statue
Friday, June 22, 2007
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Two college students believed to be over-exuberant fans of "The Simpsons" stole a life-sized figurine of Homer Simpson from a cinema, but police tracked them down and forced them to return it Thursday.
"This case has been solved," Mazlan Mansor, police chief of Malaysia's central Petaling Jaya district, said.
The fiberglass replica of Homer holding a TV remote control was part of a promotional display at a local cinema for the upcoming big-screen version of the U.S. TV cartoon series.
The exhibit included the rest of the Simpson family -- Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie -- sitting on a couch at a multiplex lobby in a popular suburban shopping mall near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's largest city.
"Homer will be reunited with his family soon," Moo Hon Mei, 20th Century Fox's senior marketing director in Malaysia, said.
She said the studio suspected the thieves were "passionate fans who want to own a piece of 'The Simpsons' before the movie opens."
Cinema employees discovered the 4-feet-tall statue had vanished Monday morning.
Closed-circuit security cameras showed that two men carried the statue out at about 3 a.m. and took it to the mall's parking lot, where they put Homer in the trunk of their car and sped away.
Police tracked down the students through their car license plate and summoned them to the police station, where they returned the figurine unscathed Thursday, Mazlan said.
"They were students, only 21 or 22 years old," Mazlan said. "We've released them for now, and a decision will be made later on whether to charge them for theft."
"The Simpsons Movie" opens in Malaysia on July 26, one day before its U.S. launch.