The holiday season often brings out the best in people, inspiring acts of charity and good will towards men.
But that wasn’t the case in Throggs Neck last month when an unknown person or persons broke into a storage shed at Veteran’s Bicentennial Park, vandalizing and stealing thousands of dollars in equipment from a girls youth softball League.
The Throggs Neck Girls Softball League is the only all-girls softball league in the entire borough, and is entirely funded by donations.
New league president Linda Del Toro said members take pride in that status and have worked hard to keep the league afloat since 1975 without the national support that little leagues often have.
“We maintain the field, and we even buy the clay for it,” Del Toro said.
Trouble started on Thursday, November 22 when an employee of the NYC Parks and Recreation Department contacted her to say they had found a homeless person sleeping in the storage shed.
The man had slept in a pile of uniforms that are likely ruined, and used a bucket to relieve himself, she said.
The same man was nabbed by police in the shed again after it was re-locked, she added.
The shed has since been secured with a better lock.
On Wednesday, November 28, the shed was broken into once more, this time however the league’s bats and other equipment were stolen or tossed onto the softball field.
Also missing was the P.A. system for announcing games and a $2,000 defibrillator, which the league is required to have on hand for games under state law.
“It’s upsetting, and I just feel creeped out about it,” she said.
Del Toro said police did not know whether the homeless man who was sleeping in the shed was also responsible for the theft, or was just taking advantage of the open shed.
A police report was filed and an investigation is ongoing but no arrests have ben made, according to an NYPD spokesman.
Luckily, the league was able to get a new defibrillator through a state safety program.
The life-saving unit is no longer being stored in the shed, Del Toro said.
Other equipment such as team uniforms must still be replaced.
This isn’t the first time vandals had damaged the girls’ fields.
In recent years delinquents, likely neighborhood teens, have lit the team’s portable toilet on fire, Del Toro said.
Litter and graffiti have also been an issue in years past, but the installation of security cameras has helped deter most of the vandalism.
Anyone looking to help the team through donation of equipment or funding can contact Del Toro at (347) 541-1644.