In a way, Dr. William Strupp is a five time World Series champion. He has the rings to prove it.
He is the team dentist for the Yankees. It’s been that way since he fixed George Steinbrenner’s teeth in 1995. He wears the 2000 ring with most pride and is honored to get all five of his rings still while Steinbrenner was alive.
Strupp has had since 1972. Each year, since 1995, at spring training he conducts a series of exams to make sure players will be able to make it through the season.
Among the plaques and family photos covering the walls of his office are also photos of Yankees players.
“Everybody grows up a Yankees fan,” Strupp said.
More than 100 baseballs signed by players over the years, three baseball bats and a football signed by Heisman winners were among the items tucked in the back room in part of the office. It was a treasure trove of sports memorabilia that was stolen sometime between Nov. 16 and 17.
To get the sports memorabilia back would take a hail mary pass.
Because many of the items stolen would be difficult to pawn, detectives talked to Strupp about the possibility of posting an ad on Craigslist.
“It was an ingenious idea,” Strupp said.
Strupp set up a "stolen Yankees" ad Nov. 24. It contained several photos of the stolen items and an offer of a reward for their return.
“You kind of throw it out there and hope some idiot bites,” Strupp said.
It took more than a month, but a call finally came.
Strupp did not know who the person was on the other end when his phone rang Dec. 22, but the mysterious person said they had the sports memorabilia and wanted cash for it.
The man on the other end was Robert Kinzinger, police said.
Strupp agreed to pay $5,000 to get back half of the items and set up a meeting with him at 2 p.m. Jan. 4 at the .
The day of the sting things almost went awry.
It was about 10 minutes before they were supposed to meet when Kinzinger called and wanted to change the meet spot. That would not work with all the equipment and personnel set up for the sting though.
Strupp was able to convince Kinzinger to make it to the location. After hanging up the phone, Strupp waited. It was about 15 minutes before Kinzinger and another vehicle showed.
Police watched Kinzinger get out of one of the vehicles with several baseballs and two bats. He walked toward Strupp.
That’s when police converged.
Dana M. Eson, of New Port Richey, sped off in the other vehicle. He was later stopped by detectives. Investigators found most of the stolen sports memorabilia and some computers in the two vehicles. After more interviews with Eson, more of the dentist's property was recovered.
It was only about a quarter of all the items stolen, Strupp said. Although Strupp was able to get most of the memoriabilia back and some of the office equipment, more valuable office information stored on the computer will probably never be found.
Kinzinger, 41, was arrested and charged with two counts of dealing in stolen property. He also was previously arrested for burglary charges Aug. 2.
Eson, 48, was arrested and charged with two counts of dealing in stolen property.
Strupp said the men police arrested are not patients and he is not sure how they picked him to rob. But he credits the Clearwater Police with the plan to go to the Internet to find the thieves.
“It was like a euphoric rush,” Strupp said.