By Jason Epperson
At least a dozen trailers full of Boy Scout camping gear have been stolen this year from various troops across the country, with losses totaling in the six figures.
Back in February, an annual camping trip to Death Valley for about forty Boy Scouts from Orange County, California, was canceled after a Ford F-250 and a trailer full of Troop 850’s camping supplies were taken in the early morning hours. In July, Troop 218 of Spokane, Washington, had their trailer stolen from their new garage at a local church just days before 50 boys were set to go on a Montana rafting trip. “It was plum full from the floor to the ceiling, five units of patrol gear, all the pots and pans, Coleman stoves, troop tents and spatulas,” Scout Master Richard Parrish told KXLY News. After a tip, police found the trailer covered in a sheet with black paint over the Eagle Scouts’ names that had been scribed on it, and boards covering up the Boy Scout logos on the side of the trailer — most of the gear inside was gone.
A Connecticut troop had their trailer stolen out of a troop leader’s driveway — “This is stuff that we’ve accumulated over years,” said David Arai, committee chairman of Troop 198 to the local NBC affiliate. “Things that people have given to us. Some of the items were handmade by some of the dads and moms, so there is some sentimental value there.”
Troops from Florida, Nevada, Georgia, Colorado, Arkansas — at least 12 troops have lost trailers this year, and on October 1st, a Houston troop that caters to kids with special needs was hit. Members of the troop, who are all on the autism spectrum, spent years raising money for all the equipment. “What is nice about this stuff is that allows these kids to experience something they wouldn’t be able to experience,” said Tony Hightower, Scout Master to KHOU 11. ”To be able to go out to the state parks, to the national parks, to the Boy Scouts sites around the state and have this gear so they can experience the outdoors. That’s really the importance of it.”
Most of the trailers have been stolen from church or school parking lots and driveways. Most had security measures in place — locks were cut, and some were even stolen out of secured garages with cameras. Police say newer trailers get flipped for quick cash, while the gear often shows up in pawn shops or on Craigslist or eBay. The equipment and trailers were paid for by fundraisers by the individual troops, amassing over several years. The troops often loan their gear to other scouting groups.