CORDIA – It took officials at Cordia School five years to secure the funds, begin building and finally complete a field house for their baseball team. It took at least two thieves only a single night to break in and make off with thousands of dollars worth of items belonging to the team and the school’s wellness program.
Joe Melton is the baseball coach at Cordia, and first noticed something wrong Tuesday afternoon when the rear door of the first base dugout stood open. A little more searching, and Melton found that someone had cut the chains from each of the gates at the field, tried to pry or kick open doors on the concession stand, and severely damaged a door frame inside the field house.
“They tried to get in everything over there,” Melton said. “Even the bathrooms.”
The doorknobs to the restrooms at the rear of the concession stand were still bent and damaged on Wednesday, and footprints were still visible on the white doors where the thieves appeared to have been unsuccessful in kicking them in.
“Anything that was locked, I think they were trying to see what was behind the door,” Melton added.
Melton said that while he discovered the burglary on Tuesday, he estimates the theft to have taken place on Sunday. And the thieves did ultimately get away with several items, including a mowing deck, a four-cycle tiller that belonged to the wellness program, and several baseball related prints in custom frames that belonged to Melton. Four torpedo-style heaters, and for some reason, nearly 30 baseball caps and uniform tops were also taken, among other items.
“We’re still finding stuff. Everything from t-shirts to uniforms to field equipment,” Melton said, adding that in his 10 years of working at the school this has been a first that someone has broken into a building on the school’s grounds.
Police investigating the burglary say it appears that at least two people were involved, just based on the size of the mowing deck stolen during the theft.
“It was at least two people,” said Trooper Randall Riley, who is leading the investigation, though at present, he added, there are no leads or suspects. He estimated that the total amount of items stolen or damaged could top $7,000.
Melton is hoping to get the word out about the theft, and possibly recover some of the items stolen, but ultimately he said people need to be aware that whoever broke into the field house won’t hesitate to do it elsewhere.
“If they’ll hit a school and steal stuff from kids, they’ll steal from anybody,” he said. “People need to be aware that it is going on.”
All of the items belonging to the baseball team were purchased with funds raised by the student-athletes through fundraisers or sponsorships from local businesses. Now, Melton noted, the funds he had set aside to for trips for the team will have to be used to purchase items to make up for the loss.
Trooper Riley urged anyone who may have information into the theft to contact the Kentucky State Police post in Hazard at 606-435-6069.