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Stealing from 4-H youngsters is really lowPosted Monday, November 5, 2012, at 1:26 PM
Sometimes you just have to scratch your head and wonder why do things happen the way they do.
Or, more directly, why are there some unscrupulous people who would steal from this county's youth?
Drugs, greed or stupidity is probably behind it, but nonetheless there are plenty of innocent victims.
A case in point turned up over this past weekend.
The 4-H Shooting Sports building, located on the southwest part of the fairgrounds, was burglarized.
The incident was discovered by Misty Hollingsworth, who heads up the 4-H Shooting Sports program, that offers instruction in archery, rifle and shotgun to dozens of Greene County youngsters each year.
Archery involves 43 youngsters in grades 3 to 12. The entire Shooting Sports project has a total of 75 members.
Club members were conducting a meeting at the archery range when the break-in was uncovered.
4-H officials aren't sure of a specific date when the break-in occurred, but 4-H Council President Lori Brown says it happened sometime between August and Saturday morning. The locked building is not tended too on a regular basis for part of the year, but is used to store valuable bows, arrows and other supplies used by the program.
Missing from the heist is two youth-sized bows, valued at about $300 each, and a full box of arrows.
Brown estimates the total loss to be about $800.
The locked door was forced opened with what Brown says looks like a screwdriver.
"Police said there was evidence that there was actually forced entry," Brown said. "The door was still locked. They stuck something in there, like a screwdriver or something because there was shavings in there where they had jimmied it (the lock) open."
"When Misty first looked in the building, she didn't really see it (the break-in) because the cases were still there," Brown commented.
They only took the bows.
Brown said the 4-H program, which is based on volunteer help and donations from many individuals and business around the area, works hard to secure equipment and supplies to offer programs like archery.
"You know what breaks my heart about this, their little club is struggling so hard to get their equipment, and their equipment is so expensive," she said. "There are serial numbers on the stolen bows."
The club is left with two or three bows.
Greene County Sheriff's Department Deputy Rick Marques is investigating the incident and Brown had high accolades for the way the officer has helped so far.
"They were so prompt and so courteous and so helpful to make suggestions on how we could secure the building (in the future). We might have to give some consideration to some motion lights. They'd have to be solar because we have our power shut off (when the fair is not operating in July)," she said. "We are going to engrave the replacements (bows) so that future items will be easily identified."
Brown pointed out that county officers have regularly patrolled the fairgrounds as a security measure.
"I just really appreciate them doing that," she stressed.
Brown is reminded that the Sullivan County 4-H Club was also hit by burglars in the past and those culprits were apprehended when they tried to sell the stolen items on e-Bay. She's hoping for a similar resolution in this case.
Marques told Brown he was going to contact area sporting goods shops, pawn shops and places that sell bows to try and get a lead on who might have been responsible for this crime.
"This just breaks my heart. ... I feel like we'll probably never recover these bows. It's really sad to think that this happened to these kids. It wouldn't matter what (4-H) group it was. All of these kids over there (at the fairgrounds) work hard. These clubs have really struggled to get the equipment they need," Brown said.
Nicholas Goodman heads up the archery program while shotgun and rifle leaders are Andy and Malea Huffman.
Malea Huffman is the Purdue Extension Service Educator in charge of Youth and the 4-H program.
"They've really worked on the safety issues and have really improved that club (Shooting Sports). They have all done a wonderful job," Brown added.
Any break-in or theft is a bad thing, but it does tear a piece of your heart out when the innocent victims are our youngsters and the volunteers who give their time to help out with a worthwhile program like 4-H.
Anyone with information that might help to catch these scoundrels is asked to contact the Greene County Sheriff's Department at 384-4411.
Nick is assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at 847-4487 or 1-800-947-4487 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Nick on Twitter @GCDWSchneider .
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