EL CAJON, Calif. (KGTV) - A Little League in El Cajon reeling from COVID-related hardship was targeted in a weekend theft.
"It's horrible. I don't now how someone could steal from a little league ... It was gut-wrenching," said Erik Weichelt, President of the Fletcher Hills Little League.
"Just devastating for the league," said Weichelt's son Gage, 12, who plays in the league.
Discovered on Saturday: a damaged fence, gate shoved open, and a locked batting cage that was broken into. A bevy of equipment was stolen, including a riding mower, a pitching machine, two custom hitting mats, two sets of catcher's gear, three catcher's mitts and hundreds of baseballs.
"To steal from the kids just doesn't make sense," said Weichelt.
The total loss was about $8,000.
"What a troubling year for this to happen," said Weichelt.
So far this year, COVID-19 health orders have canceled the team's main fundraiser, along with limiting all activities to practices and no games. In the concession
area, there is $3,500 worth of food which will likely go unsold.
"No revenue has come in. We're losing money because fees are still there. The cost of lights and maintenance isn't going away," said Weichelt.
Their financial dilemma is now a bigger issue because of the theft. The loss of the equipment will limit the activities the kids are able to do, during a time when baseball, for many, has become a lifeline.
"No pitching machine means we can't hit. No lawn mower, no grass to play on. Right now, baseball is like an important sport for kid to get outside and play, and now we can't," said Gage.
The league is insured, but it's unclear if the theft and vandalism will be covered.
A Gofundme campaign has been set up to help the league with the cost of replacing the stolen items.