Vital piece of equipment returns to Lakeside softball field after it was stolen

League's Gator utility vehicle stolen last week

LAKESIDE, Calif. - New safety measures will be in place after a vital piece of equipment was stolen from the Lakeside Girls Fast Pitch Softball League's shed.

10News talked with the president of the league last Sunday, shortly after they learned their beloved and much needed John Deere Gator utility vehicle had been stolen.

"It's a huge setback especially two days before our opening day," said league president Josh Barnes. "We can't clean up the park. We can't make sure the girls have a safe playing surface on the fields."

The next night, the Gator was returned after Todd Fields and others searched the nearby riverbed for hours.

"We were stressing," said Fields. "We were pretty stressed out that we wouldn't have our Gator back for opening day and opening day is a big deal," said Fields, who is with the league.

Whoever stole the Gator had filled its gas tank with water, destroyed the ignition and put about a hundred hours of drive time on the motor. The bed was full of trash, handles had been removed from the shifter and the tires were low.

"It's not cool," said Lakeside softball player Leticia Ramirez. "We haven't done anything to them to steal from us and just it's not cool."

Fields, though, says the Gator is now running like new, thanks to a local company's generosity.

"Stokes Equipment in El Cajon donated all the parts, supplies, the labor free of charge," said Fields.

Theft is a regular occurrence at these fields, though. Items targeted include propane tanks, copper wire, brass off sinks and anything that is not bolted down.

Now, another local company has stepped in to donate a security system to prevent future thefts from occurring.

"That's where we're going to put a camera," said Fields. "We have motion sensors going in we have strobe lights going in ... an ultrasonic alarm so people can hear it far away."

Fields tells 10News there still have been no arrests in the case of the stolen Gator.

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