The family of a late Iowa equipment hauler is trying to locate a collection of his pedal tractors stolen recently from a storage unit in Hamilton, Ill.
The toys were taken after only a few days, says Deborah Perry, daughter of collector Robert "Bob" Burke. They were stored after his death in April and, per his wishes, would have been sold at auction.
Burke lost his arm in a farming accident as a young boy and later became a semi and lowboy driver for Raid Bros Quarry for 27 years, Perry says. He enjoyed buying and restoring small-scale versions of the equipment he once helped transport.
In an email interview, Perry described the collection, the value it holds for the family and the action the family is taken to locate the stolen tractors.
Tell me a bit about your dad.
Only having one arm did not stop him from doing what he wanted to do. After my mother passed away in 1993, he started collecting toys - mainly farm toys or heavy equipment much like what he had hauled. He enjoyed turning a rusty and dented toy into a nicely restored piece. His greatest love was his pedal tractors. He restored many for himself as well as some for friends in Denmark.
Anyone that knew my dad knows that he had his own unique way of assembling the pedal tractors. This was in part due to the fact that he only had one arm. He developed ways of assembling that worked for him. This fact should help in locating the stolen pedal tractors.
What was stolen?
Among the approximate nine to 12 stolen pedal tractors are four John Deeres, three Farmalls, one White and one Massey. These are approximate figures, as we are still going through the collection.
What is the value of the collection, in dollars and sentimental value?
The value would be $2,000 to $3,000. The sentiment goes far beyond that amount. This was Dad's love, and he wanted them sold at auction. He loved going to auctions, where found much of his collection. To have part of his collection stolen was like losing a part of him all over again.
There was an enormous amount of sentimental value to the entire family. We would ask no questions if the person or persons were to return these pedal tractors so they can be sold at Dad's auction.