Police in Canada have made an arrest in connection with the theft of what police say was more than $500,000 worth of Wayne Gretzky memorabilia from the Ontario home of his 82-year-old father, Walter Gretzky.
The Brantford Police Service, in a joint investigation with the Ontario Provincial Police and with the assistance of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, say a man from Oakville, ON was charged after a three-month investigation. Police have yet to release the name of the suspect, but a local newspaper identified him as 58-year-old Ken Hadall. According to Sports Illustrated, both he and a police officer who was also arrested in a separate fraud case involving a Gretzky stick were acquaintances of the family for some time. However, the female police officer is not believed to be connected to the theft of the memorabilia.
Members of the Gretzky family contacted police in August after discovering various items missing from Walter Gretzky’s home in Brantford. Police say they learned that several of the missing items had likely been sold to various collectors across Canada.
Due to the multi-jurisdictional nature of the investigation, Brantford police sought the assistance of the RCMP and OPP.
On December 8, officers with the Brantford Police Service, OPP and RCMP, with assistance from the Halton Regional Police Service, executed search warrants at five homes across Ontario and Alberta, recovering multiple game used sticks, hockey gloves, pants, jerseys and a 1983-84 Player-of-the-Year award. The estimated value of the items is believed to be valued in excess of $500,000 U.S.
Police provided photos but didn’t immediately offer any specific information tying the stolen items to specific games. A spokesperson with the Brantford Police Service told SC Daily that all of the items recovered as a result of the investigation were one-of-a-kind items which were given by Wayne Gretzky to his father and “have significant sentimental value in additional to monetary value.”
The suspect in the case has been charged with Theft Over $5,000 and Possession Over $5,000.
“On behalf of our family, I would like to thank the Brantford Police Service, the Ontario Provincial Police, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for everything they have done regarding this investigation,” stated Glen Gretzky, son of Walter Gretzky and brother of Wayne. “I would like to sincerely thank every member of the team; the professionalism, dedication and support they have shown has been greatly appreciated.”
Additionally, during the course of the investigation, police say they also uncovered evidence of fraud regarding a Wayne Gretzky stick that was unrelated to the theft case. 58-year-old June Dobson, an officer with the Ontario Provincial Police, residing in Brockville, Ontario, has been charged with Fraud Over $5,000 and Breach of Trust. The Toronto Sun published a photo of Dobson with Walter Gretzky as part of its coverage of her arrest.
Late last week, an O-Pee-Chee Gretzky rookie card graded PSA 10, set a record for the most expensive hockey card ever sold at auction for $1.29 million while a game-worn and autographed Gretzky jersey from his rookie season sold for $478,000.