Archive for Thursday, June 28, 2001

Eudora youth baseball league victim of vandalism, theft of property

June 28, 2001

Eudora's youth baseball fields certainly sees its share of foul balls, but earlier this month the facility witnessed something much more foul than a stray swing.

Between 7 p.m. June 14 and 6 p.m. June 15, about $1,500 worth of balls, catching gear and umpire equipment was taken from a complex shed used by the Eudora Amateur Baseball Association, a youth sports organization.

The Eudora police report lists theft, burglary and criminal damage.

The group was able to purchase the equipment thanks in part to volunteers, mostly Eudora parents, who worked concession stands during Chiefs and Royals ball games.

Police Chief Bill Long said officials were still investigating the case.

"The point is they're stealing from a non-profit organization," volunteer Monica Durkin said. In addition to the expensive equipment, Durkin said concession items like sports drinks and peanuts were also missing from the shed.

Although they padlocked the door, Durkin said the thief or thieves appeared to have kicked the door in, loosening it from the frame.

Once inside, whoever broke in had the proper tools, including wire cutters, to get to the goodies.

"Whoever did it knew what they were doing," she said.

For now, the league stores equipment at volunteers' homes until they can fix the broken door.

"We had to already go and purchase right off the bat what we needed to continue to function," association president Paula Winkler said of the $900 spent to replenish essentials, like baseballs. "We have a little bit of bright light in the tunnel."

The owners of the 23rd Street Auction House in Lawrence donated two boxes of balls, catching equipment and umpire equipment after hearing about the theft from employees whose children play in the league, Winkler said.

The association's fireworks stand could help out with costs, too, Winkler said.

If officials catch the thief or thieves, Winkler said volunteers want to see the offender in the game.

"We've discussed it, and if they prosecute, one thing we'd like them to do is volunteer for us," she said. "That's the kind of restitution we want. We'd like to see them get out and work with us. Maybe they would understand how much goes into getting the equipment."

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