A man looking for moving boxes found dozens of missing Academy Award statuettes in a trash bin.
Willie Fullgear was shielded by police early Monday as about a dozen officers climbed into two large metal bins, searching for boxes filled with the statuettes.
Police Capt. David Powers said early Monday that investigators checked with the academy and verified that the statues were at least some of the missing Oscars. Powers said a special mark showed them to be the true awards.
Fifty-five Oscar statues intended for presentation at next Sunday's award show vanished last week and were presumed stolen.
Powers said he was unsure whether they would be returned in time for the show.
"If it were just a matter of recovering the Oscars I'd say let's open them up right now. But this is a theft, a criminal investigation and we have to proceed cautiously," Powers said.
Police had opened some boxes and placed about 12 of the gold-plated statuettes on the ground. They appeared to be in good condition.
Fullgear said he found the statues about 9:30 p.m. Sunday still wrapped in plastic, padded with Styrofoam and in individual white boxes. He filled the trunk of his car with the boxes and alerted CBS-TV and police.
"I found a lot of white stuff out there which were a lot of Styrofoam boxes and I picked one up and busted it open - Oscar," Fullgear told CBS TV.
The bins were in a parking lot with a tall wrought iron fence topped with razor wire. The L-shaped lot served a coin-operated laundry, smog-check station and grocery store. It wasn't clear when the trash bins were last emptied.
Messages left before business hours at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences were not immediately returned to The Associated Press.
The statues were reported missing March 10 from a Roadway Express Inc. loading dock in Bell, the Los Angeles-area community where 4,000 Oscar ballots were misplaced at a post office earlier this month.
The ballots were eventually found, but the Academy had already printed new ones and extended the voting deadline by two days, to Thursday.Reuse content