Roger Maris belt worth estimated $140,000 stolen from Fargo mall

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The scene of the robbery at the Roger Maris Museum in Fargo, N.D. (AP Photo/Dave Kolpack
The scene of the robbery at the Roger Maris Museum in Fargo, N.D. (AP Photo/Dave Kolpack

In a caper that has rocked Fargo, N.D., a thief broke into the Roger Maris Museum early Tuesday morning and made off with Maris’ 1960 MVP plaque and a gold-and-diamond belt awarded to Maris that could be worth as much as $140,000.

The crime happened around 2 a.m. at the West Acres Mall in Fargo, Maris’ hometown. According to authorities, it was a rather efficient heist, with the thief in and out of the museum in about a minute.

“We feel violated this morning,” said Chris Heaton, the property manager for the mall, which according to The Forum newspaper in Fargo. He also said: “I’m deeply disturbed. I’m appalled.”

The belt is an interesting item, as it was an annual award given to the best professional athlete in any sport by Hickok Manufacturing Company. It’s known as the Hickok Belt, and was given away from 1950-1976, then revived in 2012. Maris won in 1961, the year he broke the MLB home-run record.

At the time it was given to Maris, the value of the belt was about $15,000. Now, according to Hickok, it’s worth as much as $140,000. Though, like most rare collectables, it’s really worth what someone will pay for it. Case in point: Ken Stabler’s 1976 Hickok Belt is currently up for auction and has a high bid of $20,000 at the moment, though the auction house says the materials are worth $180,000.

Ken Stabler's 1976 Hickok Belt (Pristine Auctions)
Ken Stabler's 1976 Hickok Belt (Pristine Auctions)

The belt was valuable enough for the thief to do his or her homework and plan the heist. Here are the details from The Forum:

Mall surveillance video shows a person wearing all black breaking into the southeast entrance of the mall and going straight for the museum. Once a window there was smashed, the bandit takes the belt and heads back outside, jumping into the passenger-side door of a vehicle, according to Deputy Fargo Police Chief Joe Anderson. It’s unclear if an accomplice was involved or if the burglar drives away, said Anderson, who added the video is still being scrutinized for clues. The mall, which has the Maris items on loan from the Maris family, said it was not ready to release the video to the public.

Here’s a question: What now? It’s not like the thief can sell this on eBay or Craigslist or at the local pawn shop without attracting attention. Maybe he or she will just break it down to its most valuable gold and diamond parts. But what if there’s a black market for these types of old sports awards?

The more we wonder, the more it sounds like this odd caper would be the plot for the next season of “Fargo.”

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Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!