Rays’ Franco has $650K in jewelry taken from car
12: 32 PM ET
ESPN Staff Writer
- Data analyst and reporter for ESPN’s Enterprise and Investigative Unit.
- Winner, 2014 Alfred I. duPont Columbia University Award; finalist, 2012 IRE broadcast award; winner, 2011 Gannett Foundation Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism; Emmy nominated, 2009.
- ESPN MLB insider
Author of “The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports”
An alleged serial burglar stole more than $650,000 of jewelry from the SUV of Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco when he was on a rehabilitation assignment in June, according to police and court records obtained by ESPN.
Kahlil Eugene Mathis, 24, used a wrench to break into Franco’s Rolls-Royce Cullinan in a Jacksonville, Florida, hotel parking lot at 3 a.m. on June 22 and grabbed a safe that contained seven pieces of jewelry, according to an arrest report. Mathis sold some of the jewelry, and police identified him through an Arizona driver’s license and thumbprint he gave at a pawn shop before arresting him July 4, the report said.
As part of his recovery from a right quadriceps strain, Franco had been playing with the Triple-A Durham Bulls and was in Jacksonville when Mathis, who was wanted for three other vehicle break-ins, allegedly cased Franco’s car in the parking lot of a DoubleTree hotel. According to the arrest report, Mathis took a $60 safe from the rear of the vehicle that held:
• A $300,000 gold, diamond-encrusted Cuban link chain and circle medallion with diamonds and a W in the center
• A $200,000 rose gold Cuban link chain with diamonds
• A $70,000 gold pendant with a medallion in green and blue lettering spelling “FRANCO 5”
• A $44,000 Platinum Rolex watch with diamonds
• A $20,000 American League championship ring
• A $20,000 championship ring from Durham
• A $5,000 gold pendant of Jerry the mouse from the “Tom and Jerry” cartoon
On June 23, the report said, Mathis sold two of the items at a pawn shop about 20 miles southwest of the hotel. Following Mathis’ arrest, police found the safe in the bedroom closet of an apartment about 6 miles from the hotel. Among the items inside were the two championship rings. The two Cuban link chains and the Rolex have not been recovered, the sheriff’s office told ESPN on Friday.
Mathis is in jail and facing charges for nine separate incidents since January, including four felony burglary charges, the Franco break-in among them, according to Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office records. He has also been charged with 14 other felonies related to weapons, evidence tampering, resisting arrest, credit card fraud and drugs, plus four misdemeanor charges, including assault. He has a court date scheduled for Aug. 1 and is being held on $906,566 bond, according to the sheriff’s office.
A public defender for Mathis did not return messages left by ESPN.
After returning to the Rays on June 25, Franco played two weeks’ worth of games before breaking the hamate bone in his right hand swinging. The Rays placed him on the injured list, and he is expected to miss six to eight weeks, keeping him out until at least mid-August.
Following a scintillating debut in 2021, when he batted .368 in the postseason, Franco is hitting .260/.308/.396 with five home runs and 23 RBIs in 58 games this year. The former No. 1 prospect in Major League Baseball signed an 11-year, $182 million contract with the Rays in November.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.