Indianapolis man's $40K sports memorabilia collection stolen from storage unit

Collection included autographs, cards, helmets

INDIANAPOLIS - Metro police are investigating two huge thefts of sports memorabilia from two different victims, and the search for suspects and the valuable collectibles have police searching Indianapolis and the Internet.

Four sheets of paper are all that's left of Brent Lane's memorabilia collection, which was a lifetime in the making.

Gone are the autographed footballs of current and deceased hall of famers, racing helmets and clothing, and 24 years of collecting complete sets of baseball cards.

"It's kind of rough, with all the life-long memories that are there," Lane said. "I want to find out who did it, you know. Just, one day at a time."

Lane discovered the theft on March 11 at the Foxes Den storage facility at 600 North Lynhurst Drive. He believes that the thieves needed a big truck to cart off at least $40,000 worth of his tools and sports mementos.

"Walter Payton autographed football -- you know, he's no longer around. A lot of the older… things don't come around that often," Lane said.

Lane's burglary was reported just one day after a thief broke into The Dugout Collectible Shop on West Morris. The suspect needed only eight minutes to steal $8,000 worth of cards, jerseys and helmets.

"My heart goes out to him," said James McWhorter, who owns the Dugout. "That's a lot of years of collecting and acquiring, and then for somebody just to come in and steal from you like that, it breaks my heart for him."

Metro Police on Southwest District, investigating both burglaries, say that it seems like more than just a coincidence that two valuable collections are reported stolen within days of each other.

Detective Larry Craciunoiu believes the thieves aren't collectors, but opportunists looking to make a quick buck on someone else's bad fortune.

"With Craigslist and eBay and stuff like that, you can sell it here in Indiana and it can end up in California, so that makes tracking this stuff a little harder," he said.

There are only four stores in all of Indianapolis that deal in memorabilia and collectibles.

They've all been contacted and have promised to help with the investigation, and the fact that the thieves will try to sell the items as quickly as possible gives police and the victims hope that they will be caught.

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