Thief strands Smithfield Boy Scouts

pseligson@newsobserver.comMay 26, 2014 

Someone has stolen the trailer Smithfield Boy Scout Troop 77 uses for camping trips.

The white trailer is seven feet by 14 feet and fully enclosed, the kind that hitches to the back of a pickup. The Boy Scouts had been parking it in the back lot of First Baptist Church’s ministry center.

On May 15, volunteers were getting ready to pack for a camping trip. But when someone went to get the trailer, it was gone.

The Boy Scouts’ parent volunteers filed a police report, but so far, police have no leads, said Lt. Keith Powell of the Smithfield Police Department. Police will soon start searching through hundreds of hours of security footage to see if they can find who stole it.

The trailer is parked for weeks at a time, so no one is sure when it was taken, said Joe Sayas, a parent volunteer. The last camping trip was more than six weeks ago, but one churchgoer remembers seeing the trailer about two weeks ago, he said.

“I’m both offended and angry that somebody would go, one, to a church parking lot and steal from the parking lot associated with a church,” he said. “But not only that, this really hurts a lot of people, the boys.”

The Boy Scouts get all of their money from fundraisers, Sayas said, adding that a used trailer would cost about $3,000. “The troop just doesn’t have the money to do that,” he said.

The Boy Scouts had had their trailer for more than a decade, and it was in good condition, Sayas said. The trailer had some equipment on it, including propane canisters, which cost the troop $300 to replace, he said.

The Boy Scouts were able to borrow a trailer for their camping trip last weekend. But they will need a new trailer soon – the next camping trip is in July, with 31 scouts and five adults scheduled to go.

The scouts might be able to borrow a trailer, but they’re not sure, Sayas said. After July, camping will start up again in the fall, and they hope to have a new trailer by then. Other groups, including the Cub Scouts, borrow the Boy Scouts’ trailer throughout the year.

Jimmy Baggett, scoutmaster for Troop 77, said at first that troop leaders hoped someone had borrowed the trailer and forgotten to tell them. But they checked with the groups that could have borrowed the trailer, and no one had.

“Well, at first I didn’t want to believe it,” Baggett said. “I always determined that maybe somebody had borrowed it and just didn’t communicate well with the usual people that keep up with the trailer. ... Once we determined it had been stolen, that was a pretty bad feeling.”

Baggett said camping trips are an important part of being a Boy Scout. “A big part of scouting is spending time outdoors,” he said, and teaching outdoor skills. The trips also get the boys away from technology, and they work together to accomplish tasks.

Anyone with information about the theft or with a spare trailer can call Baggett at 919-631-6083.

Seligson: 919-836-5768

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