Two Northland non-profit sports programs hit hard by thieves in recent weeks

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Thieves targeted a Northland youth soccer complex – stealing hundreds of dollars worth of tools and leaving thousands of dollars worth of property damage.

It happened at the Western Missouri Soccer League field complex near East I-435 and NE 76th Street.

The fields provide a place where kids ages 3-19 hone their soccer skills and learn sportsmanship thanks to the WMSL non-profit organization.

Ron Meriwether, the league administrator, maintains the fields and equipment and came to the property this week to find a tractor parked out-of-place.

He then drove toward a garage that houses tractors, tools and lawn equipment to find it damaged, stripped of valuables, and doused with gasoline.

“I think they were going to leave a final calling card and they were going to torch the place and set it on fire,” he guessed of the criminals’ plans.

Thankfully, the building is still there; but the damage is done and will likely cost up to $2,000 to replace or fix everything.

“[I feel] violated and sick,” Meriwether said, “and don’t even want to say what else. It was very upsetting that somebody would have to sink to that level to do something like that.”

It’s a feeling all too familiar about two miles down the road at the A.J. Wilson Sports Complex, which is home to the North Kansas City Area Baseball League.

That complex was robbed of copper, A/C units and sports equipment just a few weeks ago.

“Being a non-profit organization, it costs us money to repair these things,” said Mike Cantwell, league director of the NKCA baseball league, “and ultimately who ends up paying the price really is the kids at the end of the day.”

The crimes mean two hard hits to area sports programs mostly run by volunteers and focused on helping children.

“It’s a little gut wrenching, quite honestly,” Cantwell said.

If you know anything about either burglary, call Crime Stoppers at (816) 474-TIPS.