Even though a scout's motto is to "Be Prepared," two local troops were caught unaware when their trailers were stolen this month. Troops from Vista and University City discovered their trailers missing within ten days of each other. While the latter had thousands of dollars worth of camping gear in their trailer when it was stolen, Vista's troop did not because they've had to deal with vandalism in the past; they stored their gear in a shipping container.
Boy Scout trailer thefts seem to be trending. Three troops locally and others nationwide have had their trailers stolen in recent months including in California, Utah, Kansas, Michigan, Kentucky, North Carolina, Maryland, and Florida.
University City's Troop 11, whose 49 members live mostly in Clairemont and University City, were lucky in finding their trailer within a week of its disappearance. Albeit sans 90 percent of their gear — a loss of about $9,500.
The trailer was found by chance, ten miles from the church parking lot, in Mission Bay Park across the street from the Hilton Hotel. Other residents have said to me in the past that Mission Bay and Fiesta Island are favorite place for criminals to stash things.
After their regular Tuesday night meeting on March 6, at the First Baptist Church in University City, Troop 11 boys went to check out camping gear for the following weekend. Gear they stored in a 20-foot-long trailer they've stored in the church parking lot. The chains that went through the trailer hitch were all they found that night.
Surveillance footage showed a car in the church parking lot near the trailer around 3:00 a.m. on March 5. Footage shows that same car back at midnight to steal the trailer.
The camping trip went on as planned with the community pitching in to lend gear needed.
Katie Simas, whose son joined Troop 11 about four years ago, explained part of the aftermath. "One of our scout leaders, that works in Ocean Beach as a mechanic [Doug], was coming home Monday and decided to drive along Mission Bay Drive to avoid traffic. He's one of the few people that could have driven past a plain white trailer and known it was ours. We had a tire blow and a piece of the tire had come up and made a mark on the trailer."
Simas said the troop was grateful to have their trailer back (even though it was damaged) along with the troop's wood-carved sign.
Simas explained the patrol boxes were the biggest disappointment when stolen and the biggest thrill when two were recovered in the stolen trailer. Troop 11 has four patrols (Sharks, Warriors, Vikings, Cobras) within their troop and each has a patrol box.
Simas who describes herself as "not a social media person" started a GoFundMe page a few days after the theft. As of Tuesday night, they had 105 donations totaling $7,455 of the $9,500 goal.
Troop 11 is the second oldest Boy Scout troop in San Diego, founded by the Logan Heights Baptist Church in 1916, shortly after the Boy Scouts of America was founded in 1910. La Jolla's Troop 4 is the oldest, established in 1912.