A Hillsborough Co. youth football league is fed up after being hit once again by vandalism. The Valrico Rams is a Pop Warner team, and says criminals have come after them at least four times in the past year. The most recent incident happened just this weekend.
A busted out concession stand window, shattered glass below, a smashed up cash register, and a giant hole in the fence make up the mess left behind at the home field of the Valrico Rams youth football league after vandals hit.
"It always seems when we try to get where we want to go, we get hit," said Kyle Jones, Valrico Rams board member.
The latest vandalism damage is just the latest damage the Valrico Team has endured. About a month ago, a welder was stolen from inside one of the building's by the field. Last year, a $5,000 ice machine was stolen, and before that, nearly a dozen cars were broken into in the parking lot.
The team's leaders are frustrated because they think there are easy fixes to keep criminals out.
"It would be nice to be able to have the help that we deserve and these kids deserve to keep this place safe," said Jones.
Hillsborough County owns the field and the neighboring park. The Valrico Rams say they've begged for better lighting, especially in the parking area. A parent even installed some light poles, but no electricity's ever been hooked up to them. The same goes for surveillance cameras on the property.
"We tried to install some cameras that we put in for security purposes, but we can't even get the phone lines and the proper wiring ran out here by the county for us to be able to do that," said Jones.
As an all-volunteer led organization, the Rams want every penny kids spend to play to go toward equipment and fixing a broken scoreboard. Funds that had been set aside for it, had to be used to replace the stolen ice machine instead. Despite all the troubles, the team has a message for the vandals.
"These kids are out here trying to do something positive and play an organized sport that I believe is impact on their life with football and cheerleading as well, and you know, to have people out here taking from them, it upsets us. But we're not going to let it stop us," said Jones.
The Hillsborough Co. Sheriff's Office is investigating the vandalism here. And the Rams are hoping this latest case might be enough for the county to step up and improve the lack of lighting.