Brian Lester figures it didn’t take thieves very long to nab part of a collection he’d been working on for 10 years.

Tuesday night, a safe was stolen from Lester’s home on Papple Road in Cainsville, just east of Brantford.

Inside the safe was at least $20,000 in jewelry and about the same amount in cash – as well as somewhere between $60,000 and $80,000 worth of banknotes.

The currency is part of a collection Lester maintains as a hobby. Between the safe and a safety deposit box at his bank, he estimates the total value of the collection at $250,000.

Some of the money dates back to 1859, and all pieces have been preserved in what Lester calls “museum quality”.

Lester says he believes the theft happened sometime before 9 p.m. Tuesday, when he returned home from work and noticed a smashed window and signs that somebody had been rummaging around.

He believes the heist couldn’t have been the work of one person.

“It was a very heavy safe. It would certainly (take) two guys to carry it comfortably,” he said in an interview.

Brant County OPP are investigating, and say they want to hear from anyone who noticed anything unusual in the area Tuesday night.

“We are following up every lead that comes to us,” Const. Ken Johnston said in an interview.

“It’s too busy of a spot for no one to have driven by.”

Local banks and pawn shops have also been notified about the theft, in case somebody shows up with Lester’s collection.