A van carrying about 300,000 Panini World Cup stickers was stolen in Rio de Janeiro, prompting the company to attempt to calm panicked collectors over the city's remaining supply in order to avoid a full blown Panini-pocalypse.
Thieves made off with some 300,000 of the adhesive stickers featuring players who will appear in the forthcoming World Cup finals in Brazil which start in June, according to local press reports on Thursday.
The glossy stickers, loved the world over by football fans since the first World Cup edition in 1970, were being taken to newsagents in the city when the delivery came unstuck.
The daring heist, which will hopefully be made into a Hollywood blockbuster starring Samuel L. Jackson later this year, was not the first of its kind in Brazil. Before the 2010 World Cup, a Sao Paulo distribution center was compromised and 135,000 packs of stickers were stolen, but later found. Though the stickers are popular all over the world, it's unclear just how valuable they are on the black market (a conservative estimate would put their value somewhere between that of a human kidney and a nuclear weapon).
Panini has acted quickly to try and avoid rioting in the streets and sticker hoarding, though.
"Panini can state that the city of Rio de Janeiro is well supplied and there is no shortage of official Panini products for sale," the company said in a statement.
At this point, Costa Rica striker Joel Campbell must be a prime suspect. He recently tweeted a picture of the remains of the 100 sticker packs he bought in search of himself, bemoaning the fact that he came up empty. At that point it would be perfectly reasonable to go to Brazil and steal a van full of them.
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