MAPLE VALLEY, Wash. — A junior football program in Maple Valley has been the target of vandals and thieves.
The storage unit and concession stand for the Tahoma Junior Football has been hit four times in the past few months, the latest break-in on Thursday morning. So far, $15,000 in damage has been done.
“When we found out this happened, we felt like we got punched in the throat,” said Ed Linge, the equipment manager for the program.
Thieves busted into the storage area and took whatever they could. The most painful part is that all the safety equipment was stolen.
People involved in Tahoma football know the importance of safety equipment.
Zack Lystedt played on those fields, and after suffering a brain injury while playing football, Lystedt helped change the law in Washington and across the country to better protect youth football players.
“We went out and got the best equipment we could for the children,” said Linge. All of the helmets that were stolen had the highest rating to prevent concussions.
The league even saved up $2,000 to buy a defibrillator in case anyone, player or parent, suffered a cardiac arrest. The defibrillator was also stolen.
Next to the storage shed is the concession stand, where a lot of the money for the football program is raised. The thieves trashed the place, and cut the lines on all of the appliances as they searched for copper and scrap metal.
So far, police have no suspects and there have been no arrests.
Parents in the program are now scrambling to figure out how to replace what was lost in time for the start of the season in august.
“You’ve got 300 kids, in football and cheerleading that depend on this equipment. They took it. They’re not hurting us, they’re hurting the kids, and taking everything away from them.”