TURLOCK (CBS13) — Thieves stole benches and vandalized a Little League park, but the community rallied to get the park ready to play ball

Turlock fire engineer Rick Sousa spent his Saturday with fellow firefighters and little league coaches replacing what thieves stole.

“This is pretty low. It’s for the kids,” he said. “Whenever we have a chance to help the community, we jump on it right away.”

While prepping the diamond for preseason practice, longtime coach Phil Salazar noticed something wasn’t right.

“I looked up,” he said. “Holy Toledo, they took all of the aluminum out of here!”

Coaches suspect at least two people spent hours dismantling several 20-foot-long aluminum bleachers at Julien Field, likely targeting the stands for scrap metal.

“They drove in from the backside of the school, cut the lock off, pushed the gate, and came in and hauled everything away,” he said.

The theft forced organizers to delay opening day for hundreds of youngsters just a few years after they raised $8,000 for the new aluminum bleachers.

Because of the theft, coaches opted for wood this time around. A local company gave the group a deal on supplies, and the police and fire union picked up the tab.

“It was amazing how it all turned out and everyone was able to work together,” said Frank Saldivar with the Turlock Fire Department.

Organizers are looking to install security lights, and hope thieves won’t be interested in stealing wood bleachers.


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