Kent fireworks stands hit by thieves

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KENT, Wash. -- Someone has targeted fireworks stands in Kent, stealing hundreds of dollars from youth groups.

Two fireworks stands have been hit in the last week.

“This is it, this is a one-shot deal with this firework stand,” said Leanne Struble, president of the Rising Stars Martial Arts Club, in Kent.

The martial arts club has been selling fireworks for the past week to raise money for the club’s new location, but early Sunday morning the club took a hard hit.

“Essentially in one night, within 10 minutes, they stole an entire month of rent,” said Tami Lee, vice president of the club.

Nearly $1,000 in fireworks was stolen.  The damage to the stand’s door is still visible and the broken wood is being held together by some screws.

Organizers said the burglary happened feet from where they were sleeping.

“I was really mad because we’ve been working hard the whole week to sell these fireworks and to find out a thousand dollars that we could have used to pay for our new school is down the drain, I was really frustrated,” said Hailey Struble, a member of the martial arts club.

After Sunday’s break-in, the group prepared in case the thieves struck again.

The club owner decided to spend the night inside the stand and at around 2 a.m. Monday, he heard the sound of someone trying to break in.

“I immediately snapped awake and I charged away and kicked the door when I heard them trying to get through … by the time I tried to get through the door he was already hopping into a vehicle,” said Chris Lee, owner of Rising Stars Martial Arts.

About two miles away, at a stand in the Safeway Parking Lot on SE Kent Kangley Road, a similar story.

“Whoever broke in had a knife or scissors and just sliced right through it,” said Kelsie Cornett, a volleyball player for Green River Community College.

Hundreds of dollars’ worth of fireworks were stolen from the girls’ volleyball team at Green River, after someone cut the rope that held the back part of the tent together. The thieves were able to pull open the tarp and crawl underneath the table.

“It’s just our hard work and someone took it away from us and it’s hard because it’s coming out of our funding,” said Mckenzie Fujimoto, a member of the Green River Volleyball team.

Both groups are selling as much as they can on the Fourth in hopes they’ll be able to break even from their loss.

The groups believe teenagers from the area are responsible for both burglaries.

They have some pictures that a local business owner snapped of some teens in the area carrying fireworks early Sunday morning. Those pictures have been sent over to police in hopes that it will lead to an arrest.

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