PORT HADLOCK — Members of the East Jefferson Little League are reeling from two burglaries this month that are expected to cost the league thousands of dollars in repairs alone.
Kenny Yingling, East Jefferson Little League director, estimates the damage alone to be roughly $7,000.
He is expecting that cost to climb as he takes stock of everything that was stolen — including laptops, scoreboard remotes and at least 70 baseballs.
“We’re getting a lot of stuff back, but there’s still a lot of stuff unaccounted for,” Yingling said.
Chief Criminal Deputy Arthur Frank of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said deputies arrested James Hansen, 21, of Port Hadlock at 4 a.m. Monday based on fingerprints found at the scene.
The burglar “really liked Dr. Pepper,” Yingling said. “That’s where they got most of the fingerprints. There were soda cans all over the place.”
On Dec. 5, Yingling went to turn on the heat in the Little League buildings on Elkins Road in Port Hadlock and found that the doors to the upstairs office and gear room, the downstairs snack bar and storage areas, and the door to the maintenance shed had all been kicked in — breaking the door frames and the doors themselves.
Yingling said the entire building had been ransacked. Everything from tool to baseballs to office supplies had been packed up into bags.
“He got into the gear room upstairs and had dumped uniforms and gear out of bags to use the bags to take a bunch of other stuff,” Yingling said.
“It looked like a bomb had gone off up there.”
There was evidence that the burglar had been staying in the building, Yingling said, adding that the burglar had built a bed using some of the league’s gear and had made a meal of popcorn and Dr. Pepper.
Yingling reported the break-in to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
On Saturday, Yingling returned to find the building broken into again. This time, the perpetrator had made a bed in the bathroom — which had the only intact door from his last visit.
The burglar “seemed to have a thing about fire extinguishers,” Yingling said, with “one next to the bed, along with a bunch of our kitchen knives.”
According to Yingling, some things — such as the league’s defibrillator — were returned during the second visit, but other things, such as office supplies and pots and pans from the kitchen, were stolen.
“It could’ve been worse,” Yingling said. “But it’s still a big hit for us. We’re still trying to go through the upstairs, so we still don’t know what’s missing as far as gear and uniforms.”
Yingling said the damage alone, which includes seven broken door frames and a spray-painted window, will cost about $7,000.
He said the Little League lost a few thousand dollars because a laptop and scoreboard remotes have not been recovered.
“That’s not counting the hours of clean up that still need to happen,” Yingling said. “It’s a big slap in the face to the Little League and the businesses who support us.”
Yingling said he is working with Little League International, which required the League to have insurance against theft and injury.
“It doesn’t cover vandalism,” Yingling said. “We’re hoping the major damage, like the doors, will be covered under theft, but like everything with insurance, that will take awhile. We don’t have a secondary insurance, so hopefully we’re not stuck with that bill.”
Yingling said his plan is to secure the building as best he can before the holidays.
“After that, I’m hoping to get volunteers to help with clean up,” Yingling said. “We’re also looking for maybe a security system of some sort. We just can’t take this for granted anymore.”
Volunteers interested in helping with the Little League’s cleanup efforts can contact Yingling at firstname.lastname@example.org or at the website www.ejlittleleague.com.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at email@example.com.