Toon Thief Takes Off With Snowman Cels

A thief with a considerable knowledge of animation has stolen 18 pieces of artwork from the award-winning TV special The Snowman from TV Cartoons’ London production headquarters. The theft of the cels (valued at $15,000) is currently being investigated by the London Metropolitan Police.

An adaptation of the classic wordless children’s book by Raymond Briggs, The Snowman has been broadcast in more than 100 countries worldwide and has been shown every Christmas on Channel 4 since it’s debut in 1982. It has won numerous awards, including a BAFTA and an Oscar nomination, and has become one of the world’s most enduring and popular Christmas icons.

It is believed that the stolen pieces, which featured scenes of the two main characters, the snowman and the young boy James, were stolen to order by someone with considerable knowledge of animation.

"These cels were some of the few remaining as most have been sold or perished in the 20 years since the film was made,” says a stunned John Coates, chairman of Snowman Enterprises Ltd. and TV Cartoons and the film’s producer. “They were due to be exhibited in Japan and Australia later this year and, of course, they are irreplaceable. I am very saddened that these pieces will be lost to generations of people who love the film."

It is not known how the thief gained access to the high-security building but forensic evidence was taken from the scene and the items have been placed on a register of stolen art.

"These pictures have enormous personal and sentimental value to me. If anyone has information about them, I would ask them to please contact the police or the Snowman offices,” adds Coates.