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Robber scores baseball cards

| Saturday, May 4, 2002

A man wearing a ski mask entered a Robinson Township store Friday armed with a handgun intending to rob it of something he felt was more valuable than cash.

The store owner offered money, but the man with the ski mask turned it down.

"He said 'I don't want the cash,' " said Robinson Township patrolman Mike Butya. "I want the (baseball) cards."

More specifically, the man wanted about 18 Roberto Clemente baseball cards — worth an estimated $5,000 — from the Sports Cards Etc. store on Steubenville Pike at 11:23 a.m., police said.

The store's owner, David Pfaff, was restrained in the store's back room with a duct tape-like material as the robber got away, Butya said.

"Basically somebody came in and knew specifically what they wanted and told me to put them in a bag, and if I did what they said I wouldn't get hurt," said Pfaff, who was busy catering to customers after the robbery yesterday. "Obviously he knew specifically what he was looking for."

Butya said the man initially approached the store but turned away when he found the store was closed and the doors locked.

"The owner followed him out and said 'I'm open' but the guy drove away," Butya said.

But moments later the man returned to the store, this time to find the doors open and the owner the only person inside.

Police believe the man had been in the store before, because Pfaff said he recognized the man's voice. Pfaff said the man ordered him to take cards from a specific shelf containing the expensive Roberto Clemente cards.

The robber then made what Butya termed "a futile attempt" to tape Pfaff's hands and place him in a back room. The robber, who is described as white, about six feet tall, 200 pounds, wearing dark clothing and a black ski mask, fled in a green compact car with no license plate, Butya said.

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