The Great Penguin Bobblehead Heist Comes to a Close | Sports Destination Management

The Great Penguin Bobblehead Heist Comes to a Close

Apr 11, 2024 | By: Brendan Menapace

The following article was originally published in Print and Promo Marketing. The original piece can be found here.


Well, sports/true crime fans, it looks like we have a resolution in the case of the missing Jaromir Jagr bobbleheads, which were destined for the Pittsburgh Penguins game but apparently never made it out of California.


It sounded like a heist straight out of the "Fast and Furious" franchise, but it seems that it's a little more delicate — more of a "Captain Phillips" situation, really.

CBS reported that after 19,000 bobbleheads failed to make it to Pittsburgh, the franchise has been getting updates from a "special recovery team" (which we can only imagine includes John Cena and Sylvester Stallone), and has been working with the LAPD, FBI, and Homeland Security.

I'm serious. They got all of the king's horses and all of the king's men to get bobbleheads back. Sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction.

The official story goes that the Pens were told there was engine trouble delaying the bobbleheads' arrival, but then things turned more sinister.

"Then it sounded like a group of extortionists had stolen the bobbleheads, maybe along with some other merchandise, and they were negotiating with the trucking company to release them," Kevin Acklin, president of business operations for the Penguins, told CBS.

The thieves, presumably led by someone like Jason Statham or maybe Nic Cage, "put fake paperwork in the hands of a distribution center," Acklin said. (He left out the part about Statham and Nic Cage, though. That's our journalistic interpretation of the situation.)

After about a week, Acklin heard that the bobbleheads were in Ontario, California, and the shipping company's "cargo recovery team" took things from here.

The great bobblehead heist of 2024"We weren't directly involved in paying any ransom again," Acklin said, asserting that the Pittsburgh Penguins do not negotiate with terrorists (again, our words). "It was on the supplier to remove them and deliver them, and they did that. Now, I'm not 100 percent if they paid anything for that. My guess is that they probably did, and they have insurance for this kind of loss."

Fans who originally purchased tickets to the game could redeem a voucher at the April 6 home game or at a drive-through event on April 7.

For the Penguins, this was really about the principle of the matter more than the financial recovery.

"They're priceless, candidly, to the fans," Acklin said. While the franchise obviously was concerned about its six-figure investment here, it was more about the fact that, as Acklin said, "It was Jaromir Jagr," a guy who means so much to the team and the city.

So, while this sounds a lot like an action movie that, frankly, I would watch in a heartbeat, it's really a tale of customer service and managing variables. The Penguins were lucky that their shipping partner was so proactive and managed the situation in a relatively short amount of time.

All's well that ends well, ultimately. And the fans will have their Jagr bobbleheads, which now have even more sentimental value because of the ordeal they've been through.

And somewhere, an aging hostage negotiator who was about to retire (we're picturing Denzel, or maybe Ed Harris) is leaning back in his chair, sweating but relieved, knowing that his last big job went the way he wanted. He looks at the framed photo of his family on his desk, and then the framed photo of Jaromir Jagr on his desk, and smiles, knowing he can finally enjoy his time with the ones he loves without the pull of his career.

Let's just hope there's no post-credits scene teasing another heist of the Milwaukee Brewers basketball jerseys.

Reprinted with permission from Print and Promo Marketing. The original piece can be found here.

Need more bobblehead theft content? The team celebrated the return of the souvenir with a six-foot bobblehead.

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