Thieves steal high school team's equipment

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NORTH PORT - A high school baseball team known for its work in the community is now looking for its own help.  Recently someone broke into equipment sheds at North Port High School and stole thousands of dollars in equipment. Now some are calling for community-wide support.

Head baseball coach Rob Rowe was ready to discipline his players for leaving the field a mess but then, "I started looking around and realized we had been broken into."

On the 14th of November, a surveillance video captures two juveniles entering the area and later leaving with large equipment bags. Missing are dozens of wooden and metal bats among other expensive items. "$400 catcher glove, $300 first baseman's glove. Took a bunch of baseballs. A radar gun which is very expensive."

In all, more than $6,000 worth of equipment went missing, as well as damage to some of the facilities. 

It's a huge loss for the players known for reading to local kids in schools, working with Challenger baseball, and raising their own money through things like selling Christmas trees on campus every year. "The kids take pride in all the stuff they have because they go out and raise the money for it. It is hard when something like that happens."

"That whole rack used to be full of bats." Junior outfielder Michael Brown had a more than $300 bat taken. "I am sure if they knew what we have been though that they would have thought twice about what they did. They just didn't care obviously."

Some are caring. The Tampa Bay Rays have donated wooden practice bats and game used balls.

Former North Port Commissioner Mike Treubert's son recently played for the team before graduating. When he heard the news he decided to write a check for $500. "Because of one or two idiots that feel that it is there right to steal people. It just broke my heart."

Hoping others in the community might also step up the plate. "Even if it is a dollar. Buy one less lottery ticket this week and drop a dollar off at the school."

Hoping a little karma goes a long way. "Very thankful for what other people are doing for us. We don't get a lot coming our way," says Brown.

Those with the program hope the community will continue to help out and perhaps even buy a tree.  The team currently has 60 left.  They are sold on their campus along Price Boulevard.

The video of those in the surveillance photos has been distributed by North Port police to local schools. So far nobody has recognized the thieves.

According to NPHS staff, the following school equipment was stolen:

• 6 Fungo Louisville Slugger bats - $420.00

• Jugs Radar Gun - $1000.00

• 3 Wood bats - $350.00

• 200 Diamond Baseballs - $600.00

• Wonderboy wood heavy training bat - $100.00

• Wonderboy wood sweet spot training bat - $100.00

• Green Easton Stealth bat - $150.00

• 10 older metal bats - $1500.00

• Rawlings Gold Glove Pro catcher’s glove - $400.00

• Rawlings Gold Glove first baseman glove - $300.00

The following personal equipment was stolen:

• White and red Voodoo baseball bat - $300.00

• Red Rawlings baseball bat - $350.00

• All-star catcher shin guards - $175.00

• All-star catcher mask - $150.00

• All-star chest protector - $150.00

• Mizuno cleats - $90.00

• Rawlings catcher glove - $225.00

• Set of Easton batting gloves - $25.00

Approximate Loss Total: $6,385.00