Lakewood Ranch Boy Scouts ask thief who stole their trailer to do right thing

rdymond@bradenton.comJuly 9, 2012 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- The Boy Scouts of Troop 303 have a request for whoever drove away with their eight-foot long trailer with all their camping supplies.

Please return the state and troop flags, and the ribbons the troop earned over the years, which can't be replaced, the scouts say.

They would also like to get back the merit badge work book, the spare Boy Scout uniforms and, if possible, their eight-burner commercial grill, which is used to cook hot dogs and hamburgers to fund projects.

"I was very disappointed because all of our hard work went into that trailer and it was stolen a few weeks before our Canadian trip," Larsen Godfrey, 13, said Sunday.

The trailer was discovered missing Friday by Troop leader Glen Zapatha from its home base at Living Lord Lutheran Church, 11120 State Road 70.

The church donated the kelly-green trailer to the scouts several years ago.

"What happened was that we had an outing planned for this past weekend and Glen was going to get some gear and discovered it was gone," assistant troop leader Daren Nickell said.

The items in the trailer have more personal than monetary value, said Sgt. James Andersen of the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

"I think everyone involved would be happy if the items were returned," Andersen said.

Andersen says the thieves may have wanted to repaint the trailer for their own use or sell it for scrap metal.

"We've alerted all surrounding agencies to be on the look out for this green trailer," Andersen said.

The trailer was parked at the church and someone found a way to remove it, most likely towing it away attached to another vehicle, Andersen said.

The Rev. Jeffery Gross of Living Lord Lutheran Church, himself an Eagle Scout, was beside himself Sunday.

"I am extremely outraged," Gross said. "I think the notion that someone would come on church property is bad enough but to steal from the Boy Scouts is awful. There is really nothing in there to pawn. We're not talking about the Hope Diamond."

With the big trip to the Canadian Rockies coming up in two weeks, the Scouts were floored by the loss, but they are still going. It will just take some scrambling and unexpected expense, Bill Godfrey said.

Troop 303 is a very active troop and the trailer contained all their fund-raising and community service equipment, including six to eight ultra-light backpacking tents, the eight-burner grill, shovels, rakes, gloves, trash cans and, the troop flag and ribbons, said Austin Kennedy, the troop's committee chairman.

"At the beginning of the year, the boys set goals for themselves and decide what they want to do and they spend all year training and raising money for it," Kennedy said.

The best way to contact the troop is by email at troop303florida@gmail.com or through their website, scouttroop303.org,

If someone wants to return items or knows something about the crime, they should call the sheriff's office at 941-747-3011, Ext. 1549, 2260 or 2274 and someone will immediately go and recover the items, Andersen said.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be contacted at 941-748-0411, ext. 6686 or tweet @RichardDymond.

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