Ricky Gervais is involved, but for once it’s no laughing matter: a shipment of more than 12,000 copies of Flanimals Pop-Up by actor/comedian Gervais went missing last week en route to Candlewick’s warehouse in Indiana. Police are investigating the incident as grand theft (the books are valued at more than $240,000).

After being printed overseas, the books were shipped by boat to the west coast, then transferred to a train and later a truck; the driver discovered the books were missing after a stop in the Midwest.

Flanimals Pop-Up, illustrated by Rob Steen, will be released on March 9. According to the publisher, the theft will have no impact on the book’s availability on that date. Flanimals Pop-Up is the first Flanimals title from Candlewick; Putnam has published two Flanimals picture books: Flanimals (2005) and More Flanimals (2006).

Gervais, who in addition to writing the Flanimals series is the creator and star of British TV shows The Office and Extras, is taking the theft in characteristically comedic stride. “This is obviously a misguided Flanimal Rights Group or an organized gang of eight-year-olds,” he said in a statement. “Just like the books, the thieves will fold under questioning.”