After thieves stolen equipment has put a fairly new sports program in the south valley at a standstill, a community has one message for the them: return what you stole.
The crime happened last week at Ivanhoe Elementary School, where the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office NFL Flag Football League is hosted. Believed to have happened early morning Sunday, May 19, by parents — the thieves stole three generators that are necessary for practices and games.
The theft has put the program at a standstill for now, according to Lt. Harold Liles. Liles oversees the league.
Arely and Nayeli Esquivel had zero interest in flag football before joining the league, but they’ve grown to like it.
“I like it because we win all the time,” said Arely.
The league kicked off in March and is operated under the umbrella of the sheriff’s office’s PAL program. The free, co-ed league let’s hundreds of students from kindergarten through 8th grade play in their favorite NFL jerseys.
Many of the players were saddened to hear about the crime when it happened.
“I was sad because I thought I would never play anymore,” said Jesse Arellano, a player.
Mayra Becerra is the Esquivel sisters’ mother, she said before this program her family would have to travel back and forth to Visalia for her kids to be part of a team.
She’s disappointed someone would ruin the kids’ fun.
“The kids are the ones that are hurting [in the end]. Now [the sheriff’s office] will have to borrow from someone else, use funds that could’ve been used somewhere else down the road for the kids,” Becerra said.
In the chance the thieves are listening, Arely implores them, “Do what’s right for our town.”
Lile said the suspect vehicle is described as a white or silver pickup truck, possibly a Chevrolet Silverado. If you know anything about this, give the sheriff’s office a call.