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Theft, Vandalism at Little League Clubhouse in Wilkes-Barre

The weekend crime at Hollenback Park is having a ripple effect on a recreation area.

Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County -- Signs of damage remained Monday that a burglar caused over the weekend at the North Wilkes-Barre Little League baseball field clubhouse. Someone smashed windows. Locks were also broken. Worst of all, the league's tractor -- valued at an estimated $1,000 -- was stolen. "It's just tough to try to maintain stuff and to try and provide security here," said Tom Heffers of Wilkes-Barre. He served more than 15 years as a volunteer, coach and league officer with North Wilkes-Barre Little League. Even though he's no longer affiliated with the league, he's concerned that it's vulnerable to crime. "The trees are kind of low, not a lot of lighting, gives opportunity for you know people who want to cause harm to volunteer organizations."

Given the damage to the top of a port-a-john outside the clubhouse, it appears the burglar climbed on top of it to enter the building through the now broken windows. "You know, it's pretty easy once you're in to get something out," said Mr. Heffers. The tractor stolen from behind the now damaged doors of the clubhouse was one that North Wilkes-Barre Little League couldn't' afford. It was donated a few years ago by a businessman.

The clubhouse is located near the Wilkes-Barre Dog Park. Both were previously targeted by vandals. "We've had damage here at the dog park, you know, in the past along with you know the same time that damage was done," said Stephanie Nafus. The Wilkes-Barre woman belongs to Wyoming Valley Dog Owners Group. She says having seen its glass encased bulletin board vandalized once before, the group is not taking any chances after the latest crime. "Since I heard that I will be removing our stuff that we do have here for the dog park."

Meanwhile, North Wilkes-Barre Little League must figure out how to mount a comeback from the theft and vandalism. "For an organization to bounce back like this you know you take a lot of donations. You keep your hand out, you hope," said Mr. Heffers.

Wilkes-Barre spokeswoman Liza Prokop told Eyewitness News Monday afternoon that police were checking to see if a tractor reported found is the one that was stolen. There was no immediate word on any possible suspects.

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