SAN ANTONIO – A South Side Little League field has lost thousands of dollars in stolen equipment and is damaged after a series of break-ins.
Elaine Ortiz, with SA Five Diamonds, said the incident will hurt the children who play there.
“Every theft, every time they break something, every time they ruin something, every time they damage something, it's money they took from a kid. Because we're not putting the money into improving our facility, it's going backwards to repair,” she said.
The most recent burglary happened Nov. 5, when thieves broke into the storage facility and stole field equipment and a $10,000 John Deer Gator that took the organization five years to pay off in installments.
“They're hurting not us as adults, but they are hurting the kids in our community — kids in the South Side,” Ortiz said.
Hundreds of children play for the league each season. This fall, there were 72 teams using the six fields each weekend.
SA Five Diamonds is the only league in the South Side. The members take pride in providing affordable access to families who want safe alternatives for their children. The organization is 100 percent self-sufficient and will have to put off improvements planned for this year.
The thieves attempted to break into the concession stand, but only managed to damage the door, officials said. The league was forced to suspend the last games of the season following the damage.
Crooks also compromised the children’s safety when they stole fences from the dugout. San Antonio police said they are investigating the incident.
Councilwoman Rebecca Villagran has been working with the city to help install a fence around the south side of the fields, where officials believe crooks had access to enter the premises.
Ortiz says Flasher Equipment has also offered to help, and she has set up a fundraising website.
The organization said the theft and incident took a back seat when one of its young players, Rene Blancas Jr., was shot and killed while going home from a family event. The organization waited to announce the theft incident, wanting instead to focus on Blancas’ vigil, which was held at the baseball field.