Charges have been dropped in the case of the missing Batmobile, but the investigation is just getting started.
A garage full of Batmobiles in Logansport, Indiana, was the site of a raid in July. It wasn’t henchmen dispatched by the Joker or the Penguin who stormed the premises, it was deputy sheriffs from San Mateo County, California — reportedly acting on the behest of a Bay Area real estate broker and political donor.
San Mateo County District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe said that his office will dismiss a felony complaint brought against Mark Racop, owner of Indiana-based Batmobile producer Fiberglass Freaks, who was accused by Compass agent Sam Anagnostou of failing to deliver a $210,000 Batmobile he’d commissioned the shop to build, the Menlo Park Almanac reports.
Now some local officials want to know why four investigators traveled halfway across the country on the taxpayer dime to investigate what should have been a civil dispute.
The caped crusader car caper dates back to last year, when Anagnostou — a Menlo Park, California-based agent with a “35-year track record as a top-producing Realtor,” according to his website — sued Racop for breach of contract, Bay Area CBS affiliate KPIX reported.
Anagnostou claimed that delivery of his fully driveable 1966 replica Batmobile had been delayed beyond the agreed-upon terms. Racop claimed he’d never received a final payment installment. Anagnostou disputed that and alleged Racop had given the final payment to another Batmobile customer, bumping the broker to the back of the line.
The civil suit was dismissed in March after a California judge ruled it should have been filed in Indiana, but Anagnostou was determined to get justice.
He contacted San Mateo County Sheriff Carlos Bolanos, whose reelection campaign he had supported with a $1,000 donation, the Almanac reports, and asked Bolanos to investigate Racop.
After a probe that involved reviewing bank records and emails and, ultimately, the late-July raid, a prosecutor in Westgaffe’s office determined that there was insufficient cause to issue an arrest warrant.
“No, he didn’t give the car to somebody else,” Westgaffe told the publication. “We don’t even know if there is a car. And that’s a civil dispute.”
Don Horseley, president of the San Mateo Board of Supervisors and a former sheriff in the county, told San Francisco’s KGO-TV that the body is investigating the Batmobile raid and has asked the California state attorney general to look into it too.
Sheriff Bolanos defended the investigation in an internal memo, the Redwood City Pulse reported.
“While it is true that I asked that this case be investigated, and I am acquainted with the victim as I am with many residents of San Mateo County, I would make the same request of our investigators whenever a potential crime of this nature came to my attention,” Bolanos wrote.
Racop, whose shop is the only officially licensed builder of Batmobile replicas, according to Jalopnik, claimed the investigators read him his Miranda and briefly brought him to a local jail before releasing him. Later, he discovered they’d obtained a warrant for his email account, frozen his bank accounts and charged him with two felonies.
“I was horrified. I’ve never gone through anything like this ever before in my life,” he told KGO. “I love ‘66 Batman and Batman always stood with the law.”