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Lutz Little League: Vandalism escalating

The cost of thefts and recent damage to concession stands and press boxes is expected to exceed $3,000.

By EVE LEBERSON

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 26, 2001


LUTZ -- Instead of buying new batting cages, the Lutz Little League president will have to use budget funds to clean up the mess vandals have once again inflicted upon the league's concession stand at the Oscar Cooler Youth Sports Complex.

"We're past angry, and we want the whole neighborhood to know," said Sue Wooten, purchasing agent for the league.

Wooten said intruders broke into the complex on Feb. 13 or 14, late at night or early in the morning. They ripped the shutters off the Little League concession stand windows, stole $200 in candy and tore the door off an empty safe. Ketchup was sprayed on the walls, and "Lutz Boys" was smeared in ketchup on the freezer door.

The vandals also hit two press boxes. The major press box suffered only a broken window. But in the senior press box, she said, the looters pushed a computer monitor onto the floor, poured toner on the copy machine, and stole a 13-inch color television with VCR, a microphone and receiver. They also snatched two equipment bags and baseball supplies from the downstairs equipment room, she said.

Little League president Mark Porche estimates the cost of damage and loss of stolen goods this time around will exceed $3,000.

Hillsborough County sheriff's Sgt. Fred Asteasuainzarra said charges are pending against two juveniles but no arrests had been made Friday. The juveniles also are suspected in residential and church burglaries in the area, Asteasuainzarra said.

This latest act follows a wave of crime in the last year at the sports complex also used by the Lutz Leaguerettes softball team and football's Lutz Chiefs.

Last March, intruders broke into the Lutz Little League concession stand and stole candy and french fries, smashed two cash registers with baseball bats and poured cans of soda on the floor.

In July, someone discharged fire extinguishers in the Leaguerettes concession building and the Little League kitchen. Later that month, the Leaguerette concession building was found defaced with graffiti and dog feces.

Gordon Brown, the sheriff's deputy assigned to north Lutz as a community resource officer, doesn't think the suspects are associated with the "Lutz Boyz" of a few years ago. "And there is no indication of any new group coming up," he said.

The vandals spelled the group's name wrong on the concession stand's freezer door, Brown said.

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