Police explore link between Roger Maris museum theft, cases in other states

FARGO-Police here are exploring a possible connection between the high-profile theft of Roger Maris baseball memorabilia from a museum in July and similar heists in states like New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, according to information conta...
Workers inspect damage that was done to the Roger Maris museum at the West Acres mall July 26. Dave Olson / The Forum
Workers inspect damage that was done to the Roger Maris museum at the West Acres mall July 26. Dave Olson / The Forum

FARGO-Police here are exploring a possible connection between the high-profile theft of Roger Maris baseball memorabilia from a museum in July and similar heists in states like New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, according to information contained in a search warrant.

The warrant, which was filed this week in Cass County District Court, seeks data transmitted over area cellphone towers around the time the theft took place early in the morning on July 26.

According to information contained in the warrant:

Surveillance video of the crime shows that a white four-door passenger car with no front license plate pulled up to the West Acres Shopping Center about 2:16 a.m. on July 26.

A passenger who is believed to be a white male wearing a dark-colored face mask, gloves, black pants, black shoes, and a uniform-like shirt with a tie can be seen exiting from the car and running to the south doors of the mall, where he smashes a pane of glass in one of the doors and enters the mall.

The man then runs to the nearby Roger Maris museum with what appears to be a hatchet or axe in his right hand and a reciprocating cordless saw hanging from a shoulder strap.

The man breaks a pane of glass with the hatchet and removes two items from a display-a 1961 S. Rae Hickok Belt, which was given to the famous Fargo native after he broke Babe Ruth's single-season home run record, and a 1960 American League Most Valuable Player silver plate.

The suspect is then seen on the video running back to the mall entrance, where he exits and returns to the car. The elapsed time from entry into the mall and exit takes exactly one minute, according to the search warrant.

The warrant also states the theft appeared to be the work of a skilled burglar and that Fargo police have been in contact with the FBI and investigators with the Bernards Township Police Department in Basking Ridge, N.J., regarding similar thefts with similar "modus operandi."

The warrant said Fargo police are seeking information from local cellphone towers so FBI agents working the other cases can compare tower data and possibly obtain a link between the cases by way of a suspect phone number.

The document states that the estimated value of the stolen items exceeds $100,000.

Messages left with a Fargo police investigator and the Bernards Township Police Department were not immediately returned.

Hickok belts like the one Maris received were awards named for a manufacturer of men's belts that presented the belts annually to the top American athlete from the years 1950 to 1976.

The award was revived in 2012.