THIEVES in Brazil have stolen a van containing hundreds of thousands of Panini World Cup stickers.
The van was making a delivery in Rio de Janeiro earlier this week when it was stolen. The thieves made off with around 300,000 stickers featuring footballers who will compete in this summer’s World Cup finals in Brazil.
The stickers, which have been hugely popular since their introduction for the World Cup in 1970, were being taken to a newsagents in the Brazilian city when the thieves struck.
In a statement, the sticker firm insisted that supplies of all 640 stickers - including La Liga superstars Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Lionel Messi - had not been hugely depleted.
Panini said: “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 stickers are extremely popular in Brazil, with the upcoming World Cup adding to their appeal. Collectors of all ages regularly organise mass exchanges, both online and at informal meetings.
Sales and distribution of the sticker albums are expected to top eight million in Brazil alone.
Prior to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, over 130,000 packets of stickers were stolen from a distribution centre in Sao Paulo, but were later found.