A collector in suburban Chicago had his home burglarized on Nov. 9 after thieves lured the man outdoors and accomplice(s) quickly entered the home and removed jewelry and other items, along with an estimate of at least $250,000 of vintage baseball cards.
The elderly victim (his name is being withheld) was home alone; much of the details of the burglary were provided by Doug Allen, president of Mastro Auctions, a friend who had visited at the man's home the day prior to the robbery and returned two days later to help with the filing of the police report. Police department officials from the victim's community would not release any details about the incident.
It was Allen who offered a "conservative estimate" of around $250,000 for the cards, an extraordinary accumulation that included a combined 1914-15 Cracker Jack set (not in high grade), an M116 Sporting Life complete set (ex-mt), a mixed grade M101-4/5 Sporting News complete set, a remarkable run of 1953-59 Topps complete sets in nr-mt to mt or better condition, a Wilson Franks set (ex to nr-mt) and other regional sets. None of the cards had been professionally graded or encapsulated. The victim apparently does not have any insurance at all.
According to Allen, the elderly man, whose wife was out at the time, answered the front door and was told by the individual that a tree had fallen in the back yard. As they went to the back of the house, the burglar apparently signaled accomplice(s) with a cell phone.
Allen said that Mastro Auctions staffers have worked quickly in the days following the burglary to spread the word throughout the hobby, including notifying the extensive Mastro customer and dealer base and calling local card shops in the metro Chicago area.
"I think they we're just ransacking the house," Allen said, noting his belief that the burglars went into the home without specific knowledge of the valuable baseball cards that were there. He also pointed out that the man's wife had answered the door the same day of the burglary and found an unknown individual who wanted to talk about repairing their roof.
Dealers and collectors are being asked to be on the lookout for anything that might help lead to the arrest of those responsible and the recovery of the cards; call SCD Editor T.S. O'Connell at (715) 445-2214, ext. 243, or call (715) 445-4612, ext. 243 on weekends.