‘American Pickers’: The Dark History Behind One of the Show’s Most Popular Guests

by Clayton Edwards
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American Pickers takes viewers on treasure hunting adventures across the United States. However, it isn’t just the finds that make things interesting. Over the course of their ten years together, Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz have met some of the most fascinating people in the country. Most of the time, they find fellow collectors, shop owners, or people who have inherited buildings full of rusty gold. Every now and then, they’ll come upon a fellow picker.

One of those fellow pickers was Ronald Heist. However, fans remember him by his fitting moniker – Mole Man. He appeared on American Pickers in the sixth episode of the first season. He was only on the hit show once. However, that was more than enough to make him a favorite among the audience.

Mole Man earned his name by digging a massive underground storage area for his trinkets. The American Pickers stars didn’t have enough time to look through his mind-blowing collection. After all, the area held twenty-six rooms. Some of those rooms were more than a little treacherous. In fact, just getting to the Mole Man’s front door was an adventure. Mike commented that the setup was like “Indiana Jones meets Sanford and Son,” with its narrow passages, sketchy terrain, and piles of picked items. Check out the video below to refresh your memory on Mole Man and his underground lair.

For many American Pickers fans, Mole Man walked the fine line between fascinating and sketchy. In that way, he mirrored his massive underground lair. Last year, the truth came out about Ronald Heist. It turns out that at least some of his items didn’t come from his picking acumen. Instead, he got them as the result of sticky fingers.

 Ronald Heist resides in Summit Township, not far from the Donegal Township area of Pennsylvania. In 2017, he allegedly broke into a barn that had been converted into a studio in Donegal. The Mole Man reportedly carried away over $600 worth of items from the burglary. Among those items was a mirror that eventually got him caught.

However, he didn’t ferret them away in his burrow. Instead, he let them “cool off,” for a while and sold them in his shop, according to WPXI, a local news source.

The owner of the items and the building thought that he had misplaced his items. However, when he went into the American Pickers guest’s shop in early 2020, he saw his reflection in his “missing,” mirror. The victim bought the mirror from Mole Man and promptly reported him to the police.

Authorities charged Mole Man with burglary. He was set to appear in a Butler County court to answer for his alleged crime in February of last year. Unfortunately, no updates are currently available on his case.

It does make one wonder if any of the items that the American Pickers found there were from one of these unauthorized picks.

Outsider.com