A Chicago card shop owner is breathing a little bit easier after five high-end graded cards stolen from his shop during Memorial Day weekend were recovered by police.
But there is still a large chunk of the 100 cards missing that were swiped from Elite Sports Cards on the city’s North Side. Card shop owner Ronnie Holloway said more than $100,000 worth of cards were stolen when someone broke into the shop, which is located less than two miles from Wrigley Field.
“It’s better than having nothing,” said Holloway, 55, whose shop will celebrate its 31st anniversary in business next month.
The graded cards recovered by Chicago police were 1951 and 1952 Bowman cards of Mickey Mantle, a 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth, a 1951 Bowman Yogi Berra and a 2000 Upper Deck Legends Jim Brown autograph card.
Scott Meherg, 41, of Oak Park, Illinois, was arrested Friday and charged with theft, according to Cook County Sheriff’s Office online booking records. According to surveillance video from the card store, Meherg allegedly broke through the back wall of Elite Sports Cards and then scooped dozens of cards from display cases into a bag before leaving. The video shows a man wearing a hood and a long-sleeved shirt taking the cards.
Holloway said that Meherg had been in the stop several times before the May 31 break-in, and that he knew where to look for the shop’s most valuable cards.
“He was not new to the game,” Holloway said. “He knew exactly what he was getting.”
Some of the cards still missing include a 1986-87 Fleer basketball pack that contained a Michael Jordan card and sticker –“only 37 of these exist,” Holloway said — a 1955 Topps Roberto Clemente rookie card, a 1949 Bowman card of Jackie Robinson, a PSA authenticated cello pack of 1970 Topps football that showed an O.J. Simpson rookie card, a 1976 Topps Walter Payton rookie card and a 1976 Topps sealed pack that contained a Payton rookie.
Chicago police told Chicago television station WFLD that Meherg apparently sold most of the sports cards for “pennies on the dollar.”
According to Cook County Assistant State Attorney Steven Haamid, someone contacted a collector about selling some high-value cards hours after the break-in.
The seller met the buyer at a Dunkin’ restaurant at about 8 AM CDT to make a deal, Haamid told CWB Chicago. Haamid said the buyer paid $11,500 in cash and a card worth $7,000 for 10 cards, the prosecutor said.
After seeing media coverage of the theft at Elite Sports Cards, the buyer contacted the store to report that he had already resold five of the cards but still had five others, which ultimately were returned to Holloway, Haamid said.
“It was like having a winning lottery ticket,” Holloway said about recovering the five pricey cards.
Haamid said that Meherg admitted to selling the cards at Dunkin’ but denied breaking into the store.
Meherg has a long criminal history, according to Chicago police. His 17 felony convictions include burglaries, forgery, theft, and identity theft, Haamid told CWB Chicago.
In May 2009, he pleaded guilty to using a forged check for $980.99 to buy a 1963 Spider-Man No. 2 comic book two years earlier from Graham Crackers Comics in Naperville, Illinois, according to the Chicago Tribune. He was sentenced to seven years in prison.