Somerset County Prosecutor Geoffrey D. Soriano announced Wednesday afternoon that Somerset County Crime Stoppers, Inc. is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of the individual or persons responsible for a located at 77 Liberty Corner Road, Bernards Township.
Anyone having information regarding this incident should contact Somerset County Crime Stoppers’ Tip Line at 1-888-577-TIPS (8477) or online at www.888577tips.org or www.scpo.net and click on either “Crime Stoppers” or “TIPS HOTLINE.” All calls are confidential, according to Crime Stoppers.
Joe Goode, communications director for the United States Golf Association, said that the night before the theft, discovered at 2:39 a.m. on Wednesday, the museum had been open for a reception for the new Mickey Wright room, the USGA's first room dedicated to a woman golfer. That event ended, and the museum was closed up, at about 7 p.m. on Tuesday, he said later on Wednesday afternoon.
One of the items taken, a replica of golfer Ben Hogan's 1953 Hickok Belt award, was from the museum's Ben Hogan room, Goode said.
Goode said a trophy case located within the Ben Hogan room had been one of two damaged during the thefts. He declined to set a value for the items taken. "However, these historical artifacts are an important part of our collection, and their loss is a great disappointment to us," he said late Wednesday afternoon.
The United States Golf Association earlier on Wednesday had issued a statement, saying the artifacts taken were the U.S. Amateur Trophy, which was created in 1926 and retired in 1992, and the replica of Ben Hogan’s 1953 Hickok Belt award. The USGA acquired from the Hogan estate in 1998 and the belt award has been on display in the Ben Hogan room since 1999, according to Goode.
Crime Stoppers of Somerset County is a community based not-for-profit agency that brings the public, the media and law enforcement together in a cooperative effort to keep communities safe, according to the agency's self-description on the Crime Stoppers website. "We offer cash rewards and guarantee anonymity to persons who call our TIPS line, 1-888-577-TIPS, providing law enforcement with information leading to an arrest, indictment or the solving of a crime. All callers to the TIPS line remain anonymous."
Meanwhile, Bernardsville Police Chief Kevin Valentine said that department is continuing to investigate a burglary and reported theft of golf trophies the previous at the private Somerset Hills Country Club on Mine Mount Road in Bernardsville.
"We are aware of the USGA incident and our Detective Bureau has been in contact with investigators from the Bernards Township police department to investigate any similarities that may or may not exist," Valentine said in an email on Wednesday afternoon. "It would be premature to link them at this time," he said then.