Rob Gronkowski
Rob Gronkowski, the New England Patriots player who suffered a break-in at his home which included the theft of two proof Morgan dollars. Image: Jeffrey Beall via Wikimedia Commons.

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As well as safes, guns and jewellery, two proof Morgan dollars were also taken in the raid on February 5 that occurred on the night after the player’s side had just lost Super Bowl LII to the Philadelphia Eagles.

It was the certification numbers on the coins that helped give police a lead after a tip was shared by the Numismatic Crime Information Center (NCIC) – a not-for-profit corporation that has been in operation since 1986 and is supported by donations from the numismatic community.

Alert to network

Initially, the NCIC received an email from coin dealer Dave McConaghy, owner of New England Coin Exchange, who advised that a high-profile client had been the recent victim of a burglary. An alert was then sent out to its network stating the certification numbers on the two stolen coins.

NCIC founder and president Doug Davis said: “Within 30 minutes of sending out the alert I received a call from PNG dealer Dave Pepe, owner of Pilgrim Coin & Currency of Weymouth, Massachusetts, who advised he had the coins and knew the identity of the person who sold them.”

After verifying the certification numbers, NCIC contacted Foxborough Police Department and provided the lead and descriptions of the sellers.

The police issued a search warrant for a home in Randolph, Massachusetts, which resulted in the arrest of a man for breaking and entering, two counts of receiving stolen property and malicious destruction of property.

Warrants were also issued for two other individuals including another man who had sold the two proof Morgan dollars. One of them has also now been arrested, with a warrant still out for the third suspect.

Morgan silver dollar

An example of a Morgan silver dollar. Image: Collezione Albertomos via Wikimedia Commons.

The Morgan dollar was a silver coin minted in the US from 1878-1904 (and then again in 1921). It is now a highly collectable coin with values ranging up to around $4500 for standard examples from particular years.

Proof coins, however, can be worth substantially more. They were struck only at the Philadelphia mint from where they were sold directly to collectors. The rarest are those from 1895, one of which sold for almost $200,000 at auction in 2017.