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Burglary puts damper on Myakka kids camp

MYAKKA CITY — Summer camp workers and the kids they care for did not mince words as to how they feel about whoever broke into their headquarters overnight Tuesday and stole $1,200 worth of video game systems.

Emotions at the Myakka City Community Center on Wednesday ranged from anger to fear over the burglary.

“It is sad that someone in this community would stoop so low as to steal from kids,” said program director Vicki Mizell.

The news of the theft of a Nintendo Wii, three Nintendo Gamecubes and two PlayStation video game systems, as well as dozens of games, put 11-year-old summer camp regular Tyler Parkinson on a mission.

“I am going to knock on every door in Manatee County until I find who did this,” the young boy said at the community center on Wauchula Road.

Mizell said just before 6 a.m., she arrived at the community center to prepare to greet the camp’s 45 to 50 kids. She went around back to check on things and noticed the door ajar. Mizell peeked inside and saw a television turned on its side.

“I knew right then something was wrong,” she said.

Mizell backed out of the building and waited for another employee to arrive before entering the community center. Once inside, they found gone all of their electronics, which they had purchased the week before to prepare for camp.

It was $1,200 worth of purchases gone for the nonprofit center. The hope is the game systems will be spotted as they are all marked “MCCC” with permanent marker.

“Not only did they steal from kids, but we are a nonprofit that is here for the kids of this community,” Mizell said.

As kids began to trickle in for camp, at first they reacted with fear when learning of the burglary.

“I was too scared to even eat my popcorn,” said young Summerlin Schlemmer.

But Mizell said Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Lloyd Spain did great work in putting the kids at ease. Spain could not find any fingerprints from the burglary, but he spent a few minutes showing a fascinated group of kids what their fingerprints looked like using his kit.

“He was wonderful. The kids were really nervous and he really put them at ease,” Mizell said.

It still didn’t make up for missing out on the interactive game Rock Band, a summer camp favorite. The game and its microphone, guitar and drum kit were all stolen in the burglary.

“I really miss playing Rock Band,” said Erin McGrath, who is headed to Nolan Middle School after summer camp.

The kids had their outside time playing on a water slide Wednesday, but eventually the heat drove them inside, where a crew installed a new alarm system while the children played.

“They can’t stay outside all day in this heat, so we really need the games when we have to come inside,” said camp coordinator Cathy Sullivan.

Instead, more than a dozen kids waited to play the only video game spared in the burglary. “All of us only have one game to play now,” Erin said.

Anyone with information about the burglary can call the sheriff’s office at (941) 747-3011, or Crimestoppers at (866) 634-TIPS.