A youth baseball organization was recently ripped off by thieves. The crooks stole thousands of dollars in donated equipment from two different locations. The first strike was at Sunnyside Park in Idaho Falls, sometime between April 1 and 8. The second strike was at Sugar Mill Substation Park, also in Idaho Falls. Both hits totaled $4,000 worth of equipment used by 650 kids who play in the Babe Ruth League. It's a double header that no baseball league wants.
"It makes it kind of hard because we run on a shoestring budget," said JL Parker, president of the league. He said there was catcher's gear, batting helmets and gloves... all gone from a combination-locked building on Sunnyside Avenue. There was no sign of forced entry according to Idaho Falls Police. Then the cable to a job box was cut, with bases and gloves inside... all gone from Sugar Mill Park.
"Stuff that we need to run the game on the field, we store in there. Somebody came within the first day or two after we put them out and cut the cable and stole the whole box," said Parker.
Detectives are on the case.
Parker said the community has really reached out since. The Home Depot donated a new job box and other area businesses sponsor the league. In fact, Parker was doing a local TV news interview, when KIDK Eyewitness News anchor Todd Kunz pulled up in a news car in the parking lot.
"We're about to barge in on this interview. Kory's got the cash. And they don't know we're coming. So here we go," said Kunz, getting ready to Pay It Forward
"Hi, are you JL?" asked Kunz, walking onto the baseball field.
"I'm JL," said Parker.
"JL, I'm Todd Kunz with Channel 3."
"Good to meet you," said Paker.
"I've got Kory Carling with me from Mountain America Credit Union," said Kunz.
"JL, how are you?" asked Carling.
"I'm doing good," said Parker.
"We heard a lot about what happened to you and we're here with Mountain America Credit Union to Pay It Forward. And I've brought with me today $500 that I know you can use at this time to continue to support these youth and put forth toward you organization and replace some of that stuff that was stolen from you," said Carling.
"Well thank you so much!" said Parker.
"So on behalf of Mountain America Credit Union, we would like to present you with this for all that you do," said Carling.
"Thank you. I really appreciate that. Thank you so much! That's kind of the thing that we were talking about just a minute ago, as we're so impressed by the outpouring of support that we've received from the community, from you guys, from The Home Depot and others and we just really appreciate that. It's really nice of you," said Parker.
There has been a new development since the news story aired and the surprise of this Pay It Forward. According to JL's wife, Lisa Parker, some of the stolen equipment was miraculously returned. Evidently the thieves had a change of heart. Some of the gear from the job box showed up wrapped in a garbage bag at Sugar Mill Park Monday night. The box itself was not returned. There is still plenty of stolen equipment missing.
If you have any information that can help detectives and the Babe Ruth Baseball League, contact the Idaho Falls Police at 208-529-1200.
"Pay It Forward" airs the second Wednesday of every month. If you know of a nonprofit organization or someone who deserves to be recognized for their contributions to the area, click on "Pay It Forward" on the right side of our website and fill out the form, or send an email to Eyewitness News anchor Todd Kunz at firstname.lastname@example.org.