A heartbreaking crime was committed against the family of former NHL coach Pat Burns within hours of his funeral in Montreal.
Not long after the hockey world gathered at Mary Queen of the World Cathedral in downtown Montreal Monday to mourn the death of Burns, someone broke into the vehicle belonging to his widow, Line.
Montreal police say someone smashed one of the car's windows while it was parked overnight a few blocks from the cathedral and stole some possessions belonging to the Burns family that were inside.
The stolen items include 30 autographed hockey jerseys, which were supposed to be auctioned to raise money for an arena in Stanstead, Que., recently named after Burns.
Montreal police spokesperson Const. Anie Lemieux said more than jerseys were stolen.
"There's two suitcases with clothes belonging to Pat Burns and his wife," Lemieux said. "There's a Movado watch for men. There's also family pictures, credit cards, iPad, jewelry belonging to his wife."
Lemieux said the thieves found Pat Burns's wallet in the car and rifled through it. She said the thieves might try to sell some of the items.
Police say they will launch a public appeal to the thieves, asking them to leave the stolen items in an agreed-upon spot where they could be recovered. Police are asking anyone who comes in contact with any of the objects to call Info-Crime Montreal at (514) 393-1133 immediately.
'It's never a good time to do this'
Burns's widow discovered the crime Tuesday morning, and his family urged the thieves to return the items — especially the jerseys.
"It's a good thing to bring it back so we can do the job we wanted to do with the shirts," said the late coach's son, Jason. "There were a bunch of hockey jerseys that were going to foundations for needy people."
He taped a plastic sheet over the Volkswagen SUV's broken window Tuesday, while police investigators snapped photos of the vehicle and dusted it for fingerprints.
a great time to do this, but we think that the person should bring back the valuables."
Burns's cousin Robin, who delivered a eulogy at the funeral, was disgusted by the crime. He said the late coach's widow had already had a tough day.
"Then to have personal effects taken out of your car [after the] funeral reception is absolutely deplorable," Robin Burns said.
He urged the thieves, if they have "any type of conscience," to leave the items with a TV or radio station or with anyone who knows Burns — and no questions will be asked.
"I'd only say to anyone listening, if you think you can sell them or do anything about them, then I think the police and the policemen's brotherhood and friends of Pat might have different ideas."
Asked if he thought it was possible the thieves specifically targeted his dad's SUV, Jason Burns replied: "I don't know, I really don't know."
Burns, an award-winning coach of the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils, died Nov. 19 after a lengthy battle with cancer.
At his funeral, people remembered the gruff ex-cop as a tough but fair man who cared about his players and knew how to motivate them.