Police Help Noted Collector Recover Over $1 Million in Stolen Trading Cards

Police Help Noted Collector Recover Over $1 Million in Stolen Trading Cards article feature image

Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images. Pictured: Trading Cards

Nat Turner didn't think anything of it.

The residential garage he parked his car in for the night was in a gated community and the car would only be in there for about eight hours.

But when he returned to his car in the morning and opened up the trunk, it was all gone.

'It' was 285 cards recently slabbed by PSA, the industry-leading card grading company that Turner oversees.

Included in the boxes was a 1997 Green Metal Universe Kevin Garnett card and some Babe Ruth and Wilt Chamberlain cards, collectively worth north of $500,000.

"I had to have someone load those cards into my car because I have a bad back, but there's no excuse for me leaving them in there," Turner, the CEO of Collectors Universe and sports card mogul, said.

Turner immediately called the police in Irvine, Calif., where he was staying. The dispatcher asked for the value of the stolen goods. Turner said at least a half-a-million dollars.

"Are you serious?" the voice on the other line responded, used to receiving calls for $50 stolen out of car cup holders.

Officer Jodi Rahn, who has been with the Irvine Police for more than 25 years, went out to join Turner in his search.

Rahn told Turner she suspected that the crime scene investigation team would want to get involved given the value associated with the case. The car was dusted for fingerprints, searched for traces of hair and video footage was reviewed.

The robber took Turner's knapsack, which had his iPad and computer in it. But Turner was discouraged by the fact that neither of them would likely be pinged when he went to "Find My Device."

"They told me they would call me back if they had found anything, but I thought there was no chance I was getting anything back," Turner said.

In the meantime, Turner got a new laptop, found the orders he had picked up, and started typing in the 285 cards and their values. Almost all of the cards were his, but some were for others. By the time he was done, he saw the number on the screen: $1,067,000.

When he was done, he finally got the break he needed. He had researched and found that, on the newest Apple operating system, an old device could be found with a locator ping if a new device was within its reach.

Sure enough, a ping came.

The robber must have had an active Apple phone within reach of Turner's devices.

At first, the address was on the highway. But a few minutes later, it was traced to an apartment complex. Police had known that there were three common offenders who lived there, but couldn't be sure.

Then the robber got hungry and he wasn't doing drive thru either. The next ping was traced to a local Wendy's.

As a plain-clothed officer approached a van in the parking lot, he asked Turner, who was with Rahn, what his stolen goods looked like.

"I told him that there were 16 little boxes and one had something distinct written on it," Turner said.

"Yeah, I see it all," the officer responded.

Turner hugged Rahn.

Police waited for the car to drive away and eventually pulled him over. Turner went to the police station and, after waiting a couple hours, walked into a room with his cards displayed on a table.

One by one, he went through them.

All 285 cards were there.

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