Things are not going smoothly for the Douglas County Men’s Softball Association.
Players arriving Monday evening for games at Sunshine Park in Roseburg found the park’s three ballfields ungroomed.
Overnight, thieves stole the all-terrain vehicle that pulls a heavy metal screen over dirt infields to smooth the surface before each game.
It was the second time in six weeks that an ATV parked in a fenced and locked enclosure at the Roseburg city park has been taken.
The first time, thieves cut a chain to get into the enclosure. Sometime late Sunday or early Monday, the thieves were unable to break the chain so they used a ratchet to remove several bolts.
“This really puts a kink in our league,” the league’s president, Doug Agee, said. “We don’t know what we’re going to do.”
When the first ATV, a 1983 Honda model, was stolen, the league dipped into its emergency fund to buy a 2002 Honda Recon for $1,000.
That pretty much depleted the fund, leaving no money to buy a second replacement. Meanwhile, games are being played on the Sunshine fields three days a week.
Dragging a screen to smooth the field is important because batted balls are less likely to skip wildly, making the games better and safer.
Agee said he hates to think softball players may have been responsible for the thefts, but he also questions whether anyone else would know the machines were stored under a black tarp in the enclosure.
“It had to be someone who knew these ATVs were here. It wasn’t just someone driving by,” he said. “I also think it may be the same person who took both of them.”
He figures it took two or three men to carry off the heist. Without a key to start up the ATV, the thieves would have had to push it out of the enclosure and more than 50 yards to the parking lot.
“It’s a heavy machine and one person could not have done that by himself,” he said.
Agee said he hopes attention drawn to the theft will cause the ATV to be found. He said there are several custom features on this ATV that make it stand out from others of the same model. It has a boat horn from North River Boats, where the previous owner worked. It also has a cup holder with a North River logo and a 12-volt adaptor that allows electric devices to run off the ATV’s power.
“None of those are found on other ATVs,” Agee said.
The thieves left a socket from the wrench used to open the fence. Police took the item to dust it for fingerprints, but they didn’t seem hopeful that a usable print could be lifted from it, Agee said.
The theft occurred sometime late Sunday evening or early Monday. A softball team practiced on the field until 7:30 p.m. and players on that team told Agee the ATV was inside the enclosure then.
“Whenever something like this happens, it really puts a damper on your day,” Agee said.
• You can reach reporter John Sowell at 541-957-4209 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.