Art thieves in Fresno, California unsuspectingly stumbled upon a Thomas Kinkade goldmine when they broke into a former shop owners's property on Tuesday night. Initially digging for valuable copper wire to steal, the intruders ending up leaving with a whopping $300,000 worth of work by the "Painter of Light" himself, reports a local ABC news outlet.

According to the coverage, the intrepid kitsch-art thieves broke into the building of former Old Town Clovis shop owner Patrick Patterson, nabbing at least 40 Kinkade paintings and lithographs as well as a collection of porcelain Hummel figurines, amounting to what must be the most the most wholesome bounty ever looted. The thieves also ran off with more "unusual art" -- though in comparison to Kinkade that could be virtually anything -- as well as a safe that they attempted to burn their way into before settling on lifting the entire thing.

How Patterson amassed his hefty collection of bucolic kitsch was not revealed in the report, though we're sure that as a fan of both porcelain tchotchkes and idyllic paintings, his means of acquiring the art was pure. It's also unclear as to how the price of the collection was calculated, but compared to a $95,000 price tag on one Kinkade paintings following his death, we guess the 40 works are, erm, fairly priced.

Patterson, presumably in the anger stage after his Kinkade grief, had a thing or two to say about the moral integrity of his heisters. "Look at that. That's not a Kinkade. It's a Chinese painting and they left that. So evidently they had some discrimination," he remarked to the ABC local news in Fresno. "It appears to me the thieves have a free rein. They can come through and victimize honest, hard-working citizens," he added.

As a former police officer, Patterson is not only attempting a criminal profile of his uninvited guests, he's also stated to ABC's local outlet that he's helping to compile evidence in hopes of solving the crime, including an energy drink he found in the building. Beyond the shop owner's detective work, Fresno police say they are also keen to locate the stolen goods, listing art dealers, traffickers of stolen property, and Craigslist as their potential leads.

In other words, save for the hope that the newfound Kinkade fans would post their fresh collection on a social networking site or would be stupid enough to go to an art dealer, it could be a while before the burgled lot is recovered.

Let us know what you think of this surprising heist in the comments section. And for those Kinkade fans mourning the loss of this treasure trove of art, check out this story of the painter's last known works being revealed in New Jersey to lift your spirits.

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