The Pickerington Youth Athletic Association, a volunteer organization, recently purchased 300 new helmets and nearly as many shoulder pads.
It got rid of the old, worn equipment, so no one was really worried when inventory looked a little light this year.
“We had purchased all new helmets and shoulder pads last year,” said Lee Gray, Pickerington Mayor. "So we didn't think anything of it, because we used to have a heavier inventory with the old helmets, 500 plus.”
It wasn't until the PYAA started fitting players with gear that it realized it had a serious problem.
“We didn't really know until we were doing the fittings, and we got to the last day, and the guys are like ‘Hey, we're out of equipment, and I'm like well that's not possible,” said Gray..
Police say about 100 brand new helmets and 80 shoulder pads were stolen sometime between November 1 and last week.
“It's really frustrating, particularly when (you) think about all the kids that this affects. I think that's where this really strikes home,” said Commander Greg Annis, Pickerington Police.
It's not the first time a thief has targeted the PYAA. In March, the organization filed a police report after a thief stole new baseball helmets, tees, and bases worth about $4,000.
The PYAA is scrambling to order replacement gear in time to make sure every child is protected before they take the field and bring their game.
PYAA says there were no signs of forced entry to the shed.
It's considering options to increase security at the complex. Police say believe there are people who can identify the thief, and they're asking those people to do the right thing for the kids and come forward.