Bad end to historic season

  • Written by Bob Rakow

HBSA president reports $20,000 worth of equipment swiped

The historic first season had just ended for the Hills Baseball and Softball Association, but the league experienced a bigger loss than in any game played this summer.
Four pieces of field maintenance equipment valued at approximately $20,000 were reported stolen Monday from a storage locker at the league’s complex, 9900 S. 76th Ave., Hickory Hills.
League President George Czarnik suspects someone who was familiar with the league stole the equipment.
“During the season, you get a lot of people there,” he said.
Still, he could not come up with a motive for the theft other than money.
“Why are you picking on us? Did we get somebody mad at us?” he said.
Czarnik also suspects that thieves loaded the four pieces of equipment onto a trailer before making their getaway. There were no tire tracks near the storage unit, and thieves likely would be spotted driving the slow-moving equipment down the street, he said.
Czarnik said he’s not surprised that thieves stole equipment needed to run a youth sports league.
“This doesn’t bother them. They don’t care who it’s from. They’re just taking it,” he said.
The loss of equipment would be more harmful if the season was ongoing, but “we still have to cut the grass,” Czarnik said. “You’re talking about a huge area of grass that we do.”
The stolen property put a damper on what was a season of history as organizations from Palos Hills and Hickory Hills merged to make a stronger organization with 200-plus athletes.

The stolen equipment includes a John Deere utility vehicle valued at $5,000, a riding mower valued at $6,000, a golf cart and field mower valued at $3,000 to $4,000 Czarnik said.
Czarnik discovered the alleged burglary Monday morning when he stopped by the complex, he said. He noticed the chain securing the gate was missing, but thought ComEd, which owns the property, had been on the site to do work.
No one from the league was at the storage lockers between late Friday night and Monday morning when Czarnik arrived, he said.
The storage locker lock was intact, but the latch was cut, allowing thieves to open the unit, Czarnik said.
“It almost looked like they used some sort of power tool,” he said.
Additionally, the security lighting located above the trailers was smashed, he said. Czarnik suspects the thieves climbed atop the storage units to smash the lights.
The adjoining two trailers, which are used to store player uniforms and gear, game equipment and handheld field maintenance tools were untouched, he said.
He filed a police a police report, but does not expect the equipment to be found. Instead, he said, a fundraiser likely will be held, to replace the equipment.
Anyone interested in helping the league replace the equipment can call Czarnik at 312- 919-0295.