Aluminum bleachers were stolen from Salas Park on Monday night, according to the Lodi Police Department.
Lodi Police Cpl. James Moore said Lodi Police are investigating, but didn't he have any further information on the case. He did say that officers went to area recycling centers, in case the bleacher thieves planned on cashing in on the 20-foot long benches by turning them in as scrap metal, and told them to keep an eye out for the benches.
The Lodi Parks and Recreation department also said that two security video cameras were stolen from Salas Park about three weeks ago. The cameras were located on the snack bar and kept watch over the bleachers. Moore said he was unaware of the camera robbery, but Lodi Parks and Rec said a police report was filed.
It is unclear if the two burglaries are related.
Rick Engelhardt, president of the Boosters of Boys and Girls Sports, the volunteer organization that helps run youth sports in Lodi, said that two sets of bleachers with four benches each, were stolen. He said the benches were bolted down and it appeared that the thieves unbolted them before making off with them.
With a full slate of baseball and softball games scheduled for Tuesday night, and bleachers missing from two of the four diamonds at Salas Park, Engelhardt and three other BOBS volunteers quickly replaced the stolen bleachers with wooden ones. Engelhardt said he took about $170 out of the BOBS emergency fund to buy the lumber, then he and the BOBS crew assembled the new seats in about an hour-and-a-half on Tuesday before the games started.
"We just said, 'OK, let's get some guys together and get this done,' and we did," Engelhardt said. "This is just one more thing the BOBS do for youth sports in Lodi."
Engelhardt said he didn't think the city of Lodi would have been able to cover expenses of new benches, or even if it could, it wouldn't have been able to get it done fast enough to provide seating for spectators for Tuesday night's games. Engelhardt believes the new wooden bleachers will act as a permanent replacement for the aluminum benches. He said he and some more volunteers are planning to paint them this weekend, if the weather cooperates. "It's great that these guys can step forward, and some had extra time or just made the time and picked up materials, and they quickly made it happen today," said Lodi Parks and Recreation Manager Grant Plath.
Some BOBS members said they think the bleachers could be turned in for $21 apiece for scrap metal, for a total of $168. The estimated figure isn't much, considering the time taken to steal them and the transportation costs, as they also think they benches would have to be turned in out of town with area recycling centers on the look out.
"It's just doesn't make sense, unless someone was going to put them in their backyard," Engelhardt said. "It is just crazy what some people will do."
Lodi Parks and Recreation Superintendent Steve Dutra said the bleacher theft is disappointing and hurts the entire Lodi community.
"I think it's unfortunate. From the community standpoint, every dime we spend on events like that, because we don't have a separate budget for vandalism and graffiti, that's money taken away from other things," Dutra said.