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Jerry Rice Signed Football Returned After Being Heisted from Charity Fundraiser in Milpitas, Suspect Arrested

One person on Saturday was arrested and an autographed football signed by NFL legend Jerry Rice was handed over to police after being stolen from a charity event, according to Milpitas police.

Patrick Van Lam, a 45-year-old San Jose resident, turned himself in and returned the ball, which was purchased for $3,500 at a fundraising dinner for orphaned and special needs children in China, after his surveillance footage photo was plastered on television and social media by local news outlets, according to police.

The charity event for the Price of Peace Foundation was held last Sunday at the Koi Palace restaurant in Milpitas. Rice, the former San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders star, was in attendance to auction off the signed football, one of the marquee items being offered at the fundraiser.

Amy Fu had the winning bid of $3,500. But the ball was swiped before she could take it home.

At the end of the evening, as Fu posed for a photograph, the thief struck. Surveillance video shows a man taking it from behind the counter.

A thief made off with a football signed by Hall of Famer Jerry Rice during a charity fundraiser in Milpitas last weekend, and the theft was caught on camera. Ian Cull reports.

Among others, the president of the foundation expressed disappointment with the theft.

"Sad to see these kind of things happen, especially when people are trying to show love for the support of the orphanage," Kenneth Yeung said earlier this week.

Fu wanted the personalized ball back, not just for herself.

"She was thinking about taking it back to China to show the kids about how people in the U.S. auction off things to raise money for their surgeries and other fees," Yeung said.

The event still raised a lot of money for the children. And Fu's generosity didn't waver: She said if the thief returned the ball, she wouldn't press charges.

When Lam turned himself in, police booked him into the Santa Clara County Main Jail for burglary and grand theft, police said.

A second suspect remains at large, according to police. Investigators are also searching for three people of interest. They were sitting with Lam at the fundraiser and may have a connection to the crime, according to police.

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