When the Disney World animatronic known as Buzzy was stolen from Epcot last year, Disney did not report the theft to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office until detectives called the company to address rumors spreading on social media.
This revelation came as part of a public records request from Orlando Rising to OCSO for information on the Buzzy case, which the department has repeatedly described as an “active investigation” nearly a year after the original theft.
According to the incident report released to Orlando Rising, OCSO detective David Foro, Jr., first became aware of the theft on Nov. 26, 2018. He spoke to a Disney World investigator, who confirmed the animatronic had been stolen earlier in the month, “but for an unknown reason it was not reported to OCSO.” The incident report places the theft sometime between Nov. 13 and Nov. 19.
Foro then went to the animatronic’s longtime home, the Cranium Command theater inside the former Wonders of Life pavilion at Epcot.
“I checked the scene and found that the animatronic had been removed,” Foro wrote. “What appeared to be hydraulic fluid was on the ground, and the wires going to the animatronic area had been cut through. The area was processed for latents with negative results.”
According to the report, Buzzy’s original cost was $269,938. Disney estimated it would cost $539,947 to rebuild the animatronic today.
In December 2018, OCSO released the first records related to the Buzzy rumors, showing the animatronic’s clothes had been reported stolen in a separate incident in August.
The theft of the full animatronic wasn’t confirmed to the public until May 2019, when it was mentioned in an arrest affidavit for Patrick Spikes. Spikes, a former Disney World employee who ran the controversial BackDoorDisney Twitter account featuring photos of off-limits areas of Disney parks, has not been charged with the Buzzy theft. He and his cousin, Blaytin Tauton, are scheduled to face trial in January for allegedly stealing and selling items from the Haunted Mansion.
Despite OCSO’s confirmation that Buzzy was stolen, theories persisted among Disney fans that the animatronic was in fact in Disney’s possession. Records released to Orlando Rising show detectives had to take time addressing one particular rumor in this vein.
In June, a former Disney World urban explorer named Dave “Hoot Gibson” Ensign (previously cited as an expert source on the theft rumors by Orlando Weekly) tweeted that Buzzy was on Disney property.
According to the report released to Orlando Rising, OCSO detective Shawn Seufert learned about Ensign’s claims and arranged a visit to the animatronic labs at Walt Disney World’s Central Shops complex. Seufert wrote that he “inspected every area of the facility that is capable of holding an animatronic of Buzzy’s size, with negative results.”
During that visit, Seufert showed Ensign’s tweets to Central Shop employees.
“None of the Central Shops’ employees recognized the subject as anyone who would have the access required to know what is housed in the animatronics lab,” he wrote in his report. “I was also advised that there would be no lawful reason for Ensign to be inside WDW Central Shops. After inspecting Central Shops and the Animatronics Lab I was confident that the Buzzy animatronic was not at either location as alleged.”
The incident report even named Orlando Rising’s July 2 report about Ensign’s claims, noting that Ensign later deleted his tweets.
Nearly a year after Buzzy was stolen, no one has been charged in relation to the theft of the full animatronic. Spikes and Taunton are scheduled to go on trial on separate charges, while the Orlando Sentinel recently found through its own public records request that NBA player Robin Lopez unwittingly bought — and then returned to Disney — Buzzy’s stolen clothes.
“The animatronic has not been recovered and it is an open and active investigation,” OCSO investigators told Orlando Rising on Oct. 24.
The full police report, with some personal contact information redacted, is available here.
This story has been updated to include a redacted version of the police report.
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