A clips taken from the security camera at a gas station may lead police to the theives who stole the hard work of a generation of White Oak boy scouts in broad daylight. Thieves drove off with a trailer loaded with the camping gear of St. James Parish's Boy Scout Troop 24 on November 1st.
The 12-foot scout trailer was parked in front of the troop's bus. Sometime between 7 am and 5:30 pm, someone cut the lock on the hitch, hooked it up and drove off.
Today, the troop was given video of the theft, taken from a Marathon gas station located near their trailer. The troop uploaded the video to YouTube. It shows a black or dark-colored pickup truck driving away with the trailer attached.
Investigators think the thieves were looking for tools. However, they got something much more valuable to the owners than what they can pawn it for. The scouts recently took the trailer and sanded it down for repainting. Assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 24 Joe Schwierling tells us, "We had our B.S.A. Troop 24 on it previous to this but right now it's just a plain white trailer." This makes it harder to spot.
For a generation, the trailer had hauled the gear for every Troop 24 monthly campout. It was packed with stuff that meant a lot to a lot of young men, some who aren't so young any more. "The boys over the 20 years that the trailer's been here, the boys earned money and raised money to buy equipment. You had anything and everything to do with camping," says Schwierling.
Assistant Scoutmaster Bill Hillebrand says there were, "Tents, tarps, tent stakes, cooking stoves, small cooking stoves that boys would use."
About 8 tents and 6 or 7 stoves worth several thousand dollars were packed in a customized trailer. It has hit some guys pretty hard. Schwierling was a scout in Troop 24 in the 70's. The sheriff's deputy investigating the crime had a son in the troop. Deputy Tony Glaser of the Hamilton Co. Sheriff's office tells us, "My oldest son enjoyed it. He's in high school now and doesn't have the time with all his sports but he always enjoyed it and they were good to him. And it's something he hates to see himself."
The trailer has been entered into national data bases, an all-county bulletin went out. Investigators hope surveillance tape from a nearby gas station gives them something. Mostly, there is just a sense of disgust that someone stole something from a bunch of good kids. "A trailer parked next to a boy scout bus. It seems to me is rather obvious what it is. Very sad someone would take it."
Last winter, thieves broke into a similar trailer owned by Scout Troop 14 in Hartwell. They stole tents, lanterns and pots and pans. But they did not steal the trailer.