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Monday, September 16, 2013


Smashed and Grabbed


I always love the gut-punch reactions I read on social media sites when an event happens. Most of it is so superfluous and wrought with emotion it turns what can be a serious moment into triviality. Such was my reaction when I heard that five trophies were stolen from the National Racing Museum and Hall of Fame. Ting-a-ling.

My first reaction, however, was this is the ultimate hipster heist. Put on your fedora, chinos and letterman jacket and repeat after me: I mean everybody robs banks and retail stores. I mean, the place I hit, you’ve probably never heard of it. Now pass me my roller skate key.

Let’s face it, the museum was an easy mark because relatively few people outside racing care, save for the Facebookers and a few trustees. There clearly are people who feel disgusted by it but they are only trophies. You can’t steal the memory the trophy commemorates. Make a new one. This isn’t the Declaration of Independence or the Rosetta Stone.

The heist is being called a “smash-and-grab” robbery. I’ve once tried the “get smashed and grab” technique at the bars and left with a black eye. Totally worth it.

As for this latest caper better left to the skill of Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo, it appears to be done by a pro. This man or woman, no doubt, scouted this location and knew exactly where the displays were. The thief bounced in under three minutes. It would’ve been much cooler had Danny Ocean been involved.

A similar heist took place 10 months ago when 14 gold and silver trophies were stolen from the Harness Museum and Hall of Fame in Goshen. One trophy was the 18-karat Memphis Gold Challenge Cup won in 1902 by Lou Dillon.

Lt. John Catone, of the Saratoga Springs Police Department, said, “There are a tremendous amount of similarities. There’s a good possibility they’re linked.”

It appears the SSPD might have missed its chance. But don’t slap a horse on the behind while walking down Caroline Street. No fewer than three officers will tackle you, cuff and arrest you for “attempted murder of an animal” before finally, three months later, issuing you a parking ticket. But that’s another story.

The end game for this thief or thieves could be to melt the solid gooooold and silver and, presumably, make three rings for the Elven-kings, seven for the Dwarf-lords, nine for Mortal Men and One for the Dark Lord:

One Ring to rule them all. One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring the all and in the darkness bind them.
In the Lad of Mordor where the Shadows lie.


The race, as they say, is against the clock. Our cat burglar, no doubt, has his own Mt. Doom by which he can forge these precious metals into unrecognizable, impersonal blocks (or the previously mentioned Rings of Power).

So when Christopher Dragone, director of the museum and Hall of Fame said, “These trophies are irreplaceable. We are saddened by this unfortunate event and hopeful that the investigation leads to the apprehension of the individual or individuals who committed this crime and the return of the trophies,” we feel for him.

At this point, four days removed from this writing, the trophies are gone, forged and melted by the fire. Hopefully something can be made from the security footage because these senseless acts of violence are hurtful no matter how few people are affected by it, a sad reminder of the times we live in.

The museum will need to revamp its security, a purely reactive measure, but necessary nonetheless.

Odds are the worst is behind the museum and no thief will strike the same place twice, but it should be a lesson that nobody is safe, not even a shrine to a sport decades past its prime.

Written by Brendan O'Meara

Comments (1)

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