The Vancouver Island Raiders are out an estimated $50,000 after robbers ransacked the junior football team’s equipment building last week, stealing everything from helmets and jerseys to nearly a dozen flats of Gatorade.
That’s a significant loss for the VI Raiders, a Nanaimo-based nonprofit relying solely on community sponsorships and game-day operations, according to the team’s general manager Josh Williams.
“There is no sugar coating or minimizing the impact this theft will have on our team moving forward. Right now, I really don’t know how we’re going to recover from it,” Williams said in a statement.
Nanaimo RCMP say officers were called to the team’s Caledonia Park practice facility on Wall Street following the theft that occurred sometime overnight Wednesday, Aug. 31.
RCMP say once on scene, officers discovered “significant” pry marks on the building’s metal door and that a large amount of equipment was missing, including a dozen helmets, 15 sets of shoulder pads, 35 girdles and 50 jerseys.
Thieves also stole 20 team bags along with headsets, game balls, field tents, yard markers, a radio, various tools and 10 flats of Gatorade, according to Mounties.
RCMP say investigators believe it would have taken the thieves upwards of 45 minutes to break in and haul the equipment away in vehicles.
“At least two people with two or more vehicles had to be involved,” said Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP media relations officer, in a news release.
But as O’Brien explains, this latest theft is just one of several “significant off-field incidents” for the team — adding to their already “tough past few years.”
“Last September, they had their changeroom at Comox Field broken into with damages and some equipment theft estimated at $15,000,” he recalled.
“In [mid-July], a fire was deliberately set at their facility at Caledonia Park and ended up charring the outside of their building and causing significant smoke damage to the interior.”
For Williams, this latest incident throws quite the curveball — especially with the Raiders’ next home game against the Valley Huskers just days away.
“I am beyond frustrated,” he added. “We’re trying our best to provide a positive development experience for these kids, but it seems that just as we get past one setback, we’re hit with another one.”
Police say the thieves are still on the loose as of Tuesday, Sept. 6. Anyone who witnessed the theft or has information is asked to call Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 and quote file number 2022-30744.