MONTREAL - A Good Samaritan has provided Montreal police with a break in their investigation of the heartbreaking theft from Pat Burns, returning suitcases stolen from the popular NHL coach within hours of his funeral.
The suitcases, along with 30 autographed hockey jerseys that were destined for a charity auction, were among the items pilfered when thieves smashed into Burns' Volkswagen SUV after his funeral on Monday.
Const. Yannick Paradis says the man found the suitcases on Thursday not far from the crime scene, an outdoor parking lot in Old Montreal.
"Inside the two suitcases there were several items that belonged to Mr. Pat Burns," Paradis said. Some items belonging to Burns' widow were also in the bags.
"At this point, the 30 jerseys of the different NHL teams are still missing as well as the watch and other items."
Police have determined the man was not involved in the robbery.
Paradis said he did not have more details about the man or the circumstances surrounding the recovery, saying the investigation is still ongoing.
The missing team sweaters were to be auctioned to raise money for an arena to be named after Burns.
Robin Burns, who gave a eulogy at his cousin's funeral, had only just learned about the recovery when contacted.
"I think it was just discarded," Burns said of the luggage. "It was probably useless to whoever wanted it. It's just a lot of Pat's old clothes."
Burns did appreciate that someone returned the suitcases.
"I think that was great of a citizen to do that. I think it was super."
Paradis said police are hopeful more property will be recovered because the public has been steadily calling their tipline with leads.
Montreal police have circulated the list of stolen property to other forces, including the RCMP.
Forensic tests done on the vandalized car included fingerprinting.
"We're expecting to find the rest of the stuff," Paradis said, noting that all leads are being checked and the public is encouraged to keep phoning.