Saskatchewan hockey fan robbed of valuable Wayne Gretzky collection

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Saskatchewan hockey fan robbed of valuable Wayne Gretzky collection
WATCH: A Saskatchewan hockey fan is looking for the public's help tracking down his Wayne Gretzky collection. The monetary value is in the tens of thousands - possibly even $100,000 – Apr 4, 2022

A Saskatchewan man who dreamt of passing his prized Wayne Gretzky collection on to his children now fears it will end up on the black market or in the trash.

Aron Gratias was among the countless young Canadians who were enthralled by Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers dynasty of the 1980s.

“I fell in love with the team first and then I fell in love with the individual,” said Gratias.

His collection began with a family member’s business connection with Gretzky, which led to gifts of sticks, pictures and other memorabilia. Gratias remembers spending his allowance on hockey cards, all of which were traded away for more Gretzky goods.

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As of late last year, he’d accumulated 19 Wayne Gretzky autographed jerseys, along with sticks, pucks and pictures bearing the signature of The Great One. Many of the pictures were of Gratias’ family with Gretzky.

The collection is valued in the tens of thousands, if not $100,000.

From left to right: Gordie Howe, Aron Gratias, Aron’s son Skylar and Wayne Gretzky. Aron Gratias / Supplied

While moving to Emma Lake, Sask., Gratias stored his items in a container on his family’s rural property outside Shellbrook, Sask. On Sunday, his father-in-law found the container had been broken into.

High-value household goods and tools were still there, but the entire Gretzky collection was gone.

“I think they were specifically after the collection and it seems to be all they went for,” Gratias said.

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RCMP believe the theft could have occurred any time between November 2021 and March 2022. Officers ask collectors, pawn shops and second hand stores to be aware of the theft.

“If you purchased Wayne Gretzky memorabilia via an online ‘buy and sell’ site since as early as November 2021 and the transaction is believed to have been suspicious in nature, please report it to police,” states an RCMP news release.

Gratias told Global News the collection is priceless to him. He’s not an investor, but he wanted to pass it down to his two children one day.

He lost close to 10,000 hockey cards, including 2,200 Gretzky cards. One graded PSA 8 Gretzky O-Pee-Chee rookie card is valued at $20,000, according to a spokesperson for Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA).

“My heart goes out to this guy,” said Terry Melia, spokesperson for PSA, which is based in in Santa Ana, Calif.

PSA graded cards come with unique barcodes that can be useful to victims of theft, provided they’ve documented their collection.

“That eight-digit barcode is unique to that specific card, just like a snowflake or a fingerprint,” Melia said.

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He also recommended using a safe deposit box or a home safe to protect valuable collections. Many collectors also purchase insurance in addition to policies on the contents of their homes.

After Gratias made a social media post, collectors have been on high alert across North America. He’s also received messages from Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland.

Stephanie Pettit, co-owner of 306 Sports Cards in Saskatoon, saw the post and warns potential buyers that a cheap offer for a Gretzky collectible is likely too good to be true.

“Being pressured for a quick sale or someone offloading huge quantities of cards is also another red flag,” she said.

Gratias said even though police are investigating, he’s solely concerned about getting his collection back, no questions asked.

“My biggest fear is that it’s going to hit a dumpster or a landfill,” he said.

According to police, the items reported stolen include:

  • 19 stolen Gretzky jerseys
  • Autographed large Gretzky pictures and a large painting
  • Autographed sticks
  • Autographed pucks all in display cases
  • Close to 10,000 cards, including 2,200 of Gretzky, some autographed and one framed Gretzky PSA 8 rookie card
  • 1979 Mattel dolls still in boxes
  • Figurines, some of which were autographed
  • Team Canada autographed photos

Anyone with information about the theft should contact Ahtahkakoop RCMP at 306-468-2969 or call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477.

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