Last May's overnight break-in and theft of two historic golf trophies from the United States Golf Association Museum in Bernards Township, sandwiched between two similar break-ins at the Somerset Hills Country Club in Bernardsville, remain crimes that are being actively investigated, but unsolved, authorities said.
Bernards Township Police spend some time every week working on the open case, which resulted in the theft of irreplaceable gold trophies from the nationally known golf museum on Liberty Corner Road, said Police Lt. Michael Voorhees.
Somerset County has taken the lead on the investigation for all three break-ins, which also resulted in reported thefts of unique trophies from the private Somerset Hills Country Club on Mine Mount Road in Bernardsville.
About five months after the three crimes, which took place on a weekly basis in May before stopping suddenly, Capt. Jack Bennett of the Somerset County Prosecutors Office said on Wednesday that the investigation is still underway.
The second overnight break-in at the Somerset Hills Country Club took place on May 22. Bernardsville Police Lt. Demmings Hoadley confirmed this week those two incidents also remain unsolved.
Bennett also said on Wednesday that rewards still are being offered for information leading to an arrest for the thefts at either, or both, locations.
Somerset County Crime Stoppers, Inc. initially offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for the break-in at the USGA. The not-for-profit group also offered a $1,000 reward for an arrest in the case the thefts at the Bernardsville club.
But then Bernardsville Police Chief Kevin Valentine and Somerset Hills Country Club President R. Kelly Doherty of Bernardsville later announced that the $1,000 reward would be increased by another $5,000 for tips to solve the thefts at that location.
Doherty, of Bernardsville, stated, “The trophies are an important part of the club's legacy. The real loss is the historic significance and sentimental value of the trophies."
The club president added, "We hope that the [privately offered] reward will entice someone to come forward with information leading to their return.”
"Many of these trophies represent [Somerset Hills] Club tournaments that have been contested since the turn of the century, and reflect multigenerational winners," added Nick Alberti, the club's golf chairman and another Bernardsville resident.
After the break-in at the USGA Museum, Joe Goode, USGA communications director for the USGA, said then that one of the trophies taken, a replica of Ben Hogan’s 1953 Hickok Belt award, had been removed from the museum's Ben Hogan room.
The U.S. Amateur Trophy, which was created in 1926 and retired in 1992, was taken from the museum's Hall of Champions, he added.
Prosecutor Geoffrey Soriano said at that time that Bernards Township officers responded to an activated alarm and found a broken glass window located next to the front entrance of the museum. Officers from the Bedminster and Far Hills police departments were also dispatched to the scene, according to the prosecutor's office.
A security video camera revealed the suspect has a tall, thin build and he was wearing blue jeans, a dark-colored jacket, white sneakers and he might have been wearing a mask, the prosecutor's office said
Law enforcement and club officials had requested that anyone with information regarding either of the burglaries call the Somerset County Crime Stoppers’ Tip Line at 1-888-577-TIPS (8477) or report tips online, or www.scpo.net and click on either “Crime Stoppers” or “TIPS HOTLINE.” All calls are confidential.