Hurricane Harvey victim's memorabilia taken after home was ransacked

CYPRESS, Texas (KTRK) -- Austin Marte has been out of his home since Hurricane Harvey.

His sports memorabilia collection, stored upstairs, was left untouched by water, but now it's gone.

"It was clearly ransacked," Marte says.

"Right here, I had a game-used bat from Don Baylor's 1979 MVP season. What I liked most about it was there was so much pine tar on it and it had a huge crack. It felt really real," Marte said.

This ABC13 employee estimates that thieves got away with 100 signed baseball cards, a dozen signed baseballs and footballs, along with several rare autographed pictures, like a 3,000 Hit Club photo.

"In this particular case, it's three particular guys who happened to be in the same shot together and it was Lou Brock, Carl Yastrzemski and Pete Rose, and my grandpa gave that to me as a graduation present. All three of them signed it," Marte said.

This collection, now missing and thrown around, was all handed down to him by his grandfather.

"That was sort of the way that we bonded," he said.

The thieves left behind the new kitchen appliances and TVs, taking the sentimental sports collection.

Memorabilia expert Michael Dean says it's no surprise.

"They can get TV's anywhere now. This stuff holds value, especially since the Astros won the World Series, their value has increased by 65 percent," Dean said.

Since Harvey hit, he's seen a spike in sports collection theft, with crooks targeting vulnerable homes that are under renovation and empty.

"They just saw an opportunity to take from someone else without caring at all and they're just going to dump it off somewhere and I just hope they make a mistake and one of these things pops up," Dean says.

Follow Shelley Childers on Facebook and Twitter.
Copyright © 2019 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.