WINDSOR, N.S. - Three weeks ago, tryouts were about to begin for the Windsor Knights Mosquito team, but something unexpected happened.
Unknown thieves stole a lawn tractor, whipper snippers, gas cans and more from the ballfield in Windsor over the winter. The items belonged to the West Hants Minor Ball Association.
Alex Sabean, a member of the volunteer-run association, said it’s been a disaster.
“Not only do we use it for cutting grass but also for dragging (and) levelling the fields between games and practices,” Sabean said. “The town helps by mowing the lawn but often, around this time of year, we generally have to keep the grass cut until the early spring growth slows down.”
The volunteers discovered the missing equipment approximately three weeks ago when they opened the shed doors for the first time this spring and noticed most of the equipment was missing.
Sabean said the association didn’t suspect any theft had occurred until the volunteers went inside because the lock on the door had been replaced.
“It would appear that the thieves came in, took the lock off, took the gear, put a new lock on it to give themselves enough time to avoid getting discovered, and left,” he said.
Sabean said that if the ball fields are not maintained, it could become a safety issue and may impact the ball season.
“We’re not a wealthy organization by any stretch of the imagination,” he said. “A lot of the equipment we’ve gotten over the years was second hand or donated.”
He’s hoping that somebody may have information on what happened to the equipment that could lead to the items being returned, but he’s not feeling very optimistic. That's why he’s also hoping people will show support through their wallets.
“It just takes away from everything, instead of buying things like baseball bats and equipment or training umpires, we have to do this,” he said.
WHMBA is setting up a donation drive, asking individuals and businesses for any help possible. Donations can be given online via email money transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org with the password "donation."
Cheques can also be made out to the West Hants Minor Baseball Association and can be dropped off at the Town of Windsor Office at 100 King St., with "equipment fundraiser" written on the memo section.
A direct fundraising goal isn’t known at this point, but all of the stolen equipment is estimated to have cost approximately $3,500.
And the sooner the funds come in, the better, as it will be difficult to rely on the town’s public works department for regular maintenance of the field, Sabean said.
Stephen Sauveur, president of WHMBA, said he couldn’t recall a similar incident with theft at the field.
“I filed a report with the RCMP when we discovered it, but there’s not really a lot they can do,” he said. “Unfortunately, the serial number for the tractor was with the paperwork and they took all of that. They took everything that went with it.”
Sauveur said the association is going to take steps to avoid similar break-ins in the future.
Adrian Edgecombe, one of the coaches of the Windsor Knights Mosquitos team and a small business owner, is hoping the community will rally around the association.
“My son’s involved in the ball team, and it’s a great thing to have in the community,” Edgecombe said. “I was very surprised when it happened. It was very discouraging that somebody would steal from a volunteer organization.”