Coaches with the Lompoc Special Olympics program were shocked and angered Friday after they discovered the organization’s trailer was broken into and burglarized.
Patricia Lomeli, a Special Olympics coach, said the organization was still assessing how much property was missing but knew that softball bats and gloves were gone.
“I’m angry that someone would take from these kids that don’t bother anybody,” she said. “Our athletes are very athletic and they enjoy doing sports. A lot of these kids don't have their own stuff so they're using whatever it is we have.”
Lompoc Police were called Friday and are investigating, Lomeli said.
The trailer, which is located behind the Anderson Recreation Center, is used to hold equipment for around 10 sports, including soccer, softball, hockey, basketball, swimming, bowling and bocce ball.
Terri Brandt, who coaches Special Olympics softball with husband, said the trailer held equipment for roughly 65 athletes from Lompoc.
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The softball season begins next week, and now there’s no equipment, Brandt said.
“It’s horrible — this is hurting our athletes,” she said. “It’s not expensive equipment — some of it we bought and some that had been donated. It’s sad and maddening”
The thieves used bolt cutters to cut the metal knuckles the lock was secured to, making it impossible to resecure the trailer, Lomeli said. The trailer will have to be moved to Santa Maria until it is repaired.
“It’s very frustrating,” she said. “It just upsets me that we’re buying stuff and that somebody could just go in there and break in and it’s gone.”
Donations to replace stolen equipment can be sent to: Special Olympics-Lompoc, P.O. Box 1164, San Luis Obispo, CA 93406. Online donations can be made by visiting www.sosc.org/nsb.