A TAXI boss has slammed thieves for stealing his prized collection of “priceless” signed memorabilia, including items from Diego Maradona and Pele.
Rob Pattison, 38, said he was heartbroken to discover that several of his signed football shirts had been stolen over the weekend.
The framed shirts – which have been signed by legends including Diego Maradona and Pele – were taken from a detached garage outside his house in Meadowsweet Road, on the Bishop Cuthbert estate.
The dad of three has spent hundreds of pounds collecting the signed memorabilia over the past eight years.
Sports-mad Rob, who is manager of Streamline Taxis, in Hartlepool, said: “I was absolutely gutted. These items are priceless to me and I’m devastated.
“They hold a great deal of sentimental value and I just want them returned.
“Whoever took them has no idea what they mean to me,” added Rob, who is married to Streamline Taxis accounts manager Angela, 41.
Rob, who has three children, George Pattison, six, Kim Young, 20, and 17-year-old Luke Young, thinks whoever stole the shirts knew they were inside the garage.
The stolen items include:
l Green New York Cosmos shirt signed by Brazilian legend Pele;
l Signed Alan Shearer photograph mounted on a display with a replica Hungary cap and a potted history of his career;
l Blue Argentina home shirt signed by Diego Maradona, with name and number on the back;
l Signed Alex Higgins snooker butt, mounted in a glass case. The snooker legend has signed the cue “To Rob”.
l Liverpool FC shirt signed by several football legends from the 1970s. The shirt is white with a red V-neck;
l Signed Gianfranco Zola blue Italy shirt.
An electric guitar and a six-to-eight-man tent were also stolen. Rob said: “They were either gifts or bought them at charity events. If anyone is offered these items please contact police.”
Thieves struck between 2pm on Saturday and 2pm on Sunday, as reported by the Mail yesterday. It is believed they got inside the detached garage through an unlocked door. The taxi chief was away for the night in his caravan. But Luke was inside the house while thieves raided the garage.
A Cleveland Police spokesman said: “Due to the unique nature of these items, and the amount of time and expenditure to collect them, the owner is very keen to get them back.”
Anyone with information is asked to call PC Adam Godfrey, of Hartlepool Police, on (01642) 326326 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.