Theft is an unfortunate occurrence in our hobby. The truth is trading cards can have great value and while the vast majority of collectors build their collections through legitimate methods, there will always be a small group that attempts to better themselves at the expense of others. Just such a situation arose recently when Collectors CEO and Executive Chairman Nat Turner had an assortment of cards stolen from his car in Southern California.
Not only an astute businessman, Turner is also an advanced collector with a real passion for cards. Earlier this month, he’d spent a full day at the PSA offices and upon leaving had 285 cards in his possession, some of which had recently been graded by PSA. The lot was an assortment of vintage and modern issues that included Babe Ruth, Cy Young and Wilt Chamberlain, and had a total value of more than $1 million. Included in the collection was a 1997-98 Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems #109 Green Kevin Garnett, a card that is limited to just 10 copies and is one of the last cards Turner needed to complete the exceptionally rare set.
Upon parking his car inside the residential garage in the gated community where he stays while attending to business at PSA’s Santa Ana offices, Turner weighed whether or not he should bring the cards inside with him.
“I had to have someone load those cards into my car because I have a bad back,” he said.
So, the idea of possibly injuring his back further by transporting them in and the fact that the cards would be in the car for less than eight hours was enough to convince him to leave them locked in the trunk. The next morning, he quickly realized he had made the wrong decision when he returned to his car and found the cards were missing. All of them had disappeared.
He made an immediate call to the police and explained his dilemma. The police arrived promptly and dusted the car for fingerprints in addition to searching for traces of hair and reviewing security camera footage.
Turner figured there was very little chance he would ever see the cards again. However, the thief had also absconded with Turner’s backpack, which contained his iPad and laptop in addition to the cards. He had purchased a new laptop after the robbery so he attempted a search via the “Find My” Apple device GPS tracker. Luckily, he received a ping back, likely the result of the thief having an iPhone near Turner’s belongings.
The Irvine Police took over from there. They tracked the perpetrator to a Wendy’s restaurant, where an undercover officer was able to view Turner’s items through the window of a van in the parking lot. An arrest was made shortly thereafter.
Several hours later, Turner was reunited with his cards. He made a beeline to the Garnett PMG Green and confirmed that it was there, along with the other 284 cards. Turner chuckled that when speaking with the police officers later, all of the them gravitated toward the Ruth, Young, Chamberlain and other vintage cards. None of them could believe that he was most excited about getting the Garnett card back. But to collectors who have spent time chasing down elusive cards to fill sets, it makes all the sense in the world.
Thanks to technology and the diligent work of the Irvine Police Department, all of the cards found their way home.