LODI -- Days before an estate sale for a well know Lodi historian began, the building was robbed. Items dating back to the 1800s were included in the robbery Thursday morning.
"I admire the commitment that he showed to history," property owner Nancy Schmur said.
Schmur's father, Ralph Lea, not only preserved his family's property since 1903, he kept and collected everything from around the city of Lodi.
"Hes been considered the local historian source," Schmur said.
The longtime historian became ill and moved into a care facility and Schmur figured they’d have an estate sale for all of the stuff her father collected for more than 80 years.
Ralph Lea began collecting at the age of six; he's now 93.
Thursday morning, they found large sections of items had been stolen.
"My wife noticed this entire table, everything was missing," Eloy Lores of Treasure Trove Antiques said.
From fraternal badges, belt buckles, masonic swords and more -- all gone.
Lores helped set up the estate sale. He estimate the items stolen were valued anywhere between $30,000 to $40,000.
"Its not the time spent setting it up. I'm sad for Ralph because this was his life," Lores said.
Schmur believes the people responsible came in through the back window of the barn early Thursday morning.
Stealing from this collection is not only taking a piece from Lodi history but taking a piece from a man’s lifetime of work.
"This is his heart and soul and passion; you can tell this. All his life this is what he did," Lores said. "Some of the stuff dated back to the 1850s, 1860s and all the way back to the turn of the century."
Schmur has yet to tell her father about the robbery.
"I think he will be sad…really sad…he viewed it with affection," Schmur said.
There is a reward offered to anyone with information that leads to the arrest of the people responsible and the property returned.
If you have any information that can help, get in contact with the San Joaquin Sheriff's Department.