COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A happy ending for the Boy Scouts Troop in Gilbert after their trailer was stolen over the weekend.
It was recovered Wednesday morning on Liberty Hill Road in Lexington, but the issue of trailer thefts is still a major problem according to the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department.
Officials are still looking for two individuals caught on camera stealing a lawnmower and trailer from the River’s Edge Retreat in Columbia earlier this month. Staff members with the retreat say they can’t afford to replace what’s been stolen.
Mildred Harris is an administrative assistant for the River’s Edge Retreat CEO Steve Ware. She wonders just how far the suspects are willing to go.
“If you stole that, what else are you coming back to steal?” she asked.
Harris was the first to get into work the morning it was discovered that the lawnmower and trailer had been stolen. Harris said she immediately realized something was off.
“I arrived and noticed that the gate was open, but it was the wrong side of the gate and I was alarmed because I knew had locked the gate the night before. The first thing I looked for was the John Deere and the trailer and it was gone.”
The non-profit offers a free, 10-week summer camp to underserved and homeless children throughout the Midlands. They say the donated equipment – worth more than $10,000 – was essential to their operation.
Harris said the lawnmower costs around $9,000 and “was a huge donation to us by a very kind benefactor. That trailer from Home Depot was a gift to us from the Home Depot. We can’t replace that. We don’t have the funds for that.”
She said the trailer is estimated to be about $4,000.
“It kept the area neat and clean. To keep up the retreat so that we can have a safe place for these children to come and be nurtured and be loved,” said Harris.
The Lexington County Sheriff’s Department said, back on October 3, two hooded individuals were seen driving onto the River’s Edge Retreat property on Garden Valley Lane in what was believed to be a gray or silver Chevy Tahoe. The suspects then secured and stole the trailer with the lawnmower inside and it’s all captured on surveillance footage.
This is not unlike what officials say happened to the Boy Scouts Troop in Gilbert. Their trailer was stolen over the weekend but recovered Wednesday morning. Deputies said their trailer was easier to recover because it had distinctive markings. Pictures show the suspects attempted to paint over the logo, but you can still see it under the thin layer of paint.
In both cases, those involved say there are innocent victims who are most hurt by this.
“To steal from this retreat is to steal from the children of this retreat," said Harris. "It provides a wonderful escape for children. It provides a place for children to be children. Children that are dealing with sleeping in a parking lot down the street because they’re homeless.”
No arrests have been made in either of these cases and officials are still searching for the equipment that was stolen from River’s Edge Retreat.
The Lexington County Sheriff’s Department said trailers usually have a VIN number. Trailer owners are urged to have that written down somewhere so that, if your trailer stolen, it can easily be identified as yours once it’s recovered.