Thieves target near east side summer youth program: ‘It was a punch to the gut’

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A summer youth play program on the near east side is scrambling for help after they say thieves stole over $20,000 worth of equipment just 10 days out from their first event.

“Our kids are worth it. Our kids are worth doing the right thing. They’re worth telling someone and letting the proper channels handle this because more than anything our kids are the ones who will bear the burden of this lost equipment,” said Andrew Neal, the Director of Play and Development for Brookside Community Church.

The group is now searching for their 12-foot trailer. The Brookside Community Church hosts free play events at Brookside Park every Tuesday during June and July. It’s an opportunity for families to have a safe place to play.

The trailer is full of sport, sound and event equipment like basketball hoops, a portable soccer pitch, tents, and more. The free event has been held for the past three years. Organizers say each year the numbers continue to climb at over 250 people attending each Tuesday.

Neal says finding out the trailer was missing when he arrived to Sunday services at church was like a punch to the gut.

“It doesn’t seem like much, it’s basketball hoops, it’s portable soccer pitches, it’s basketballs and footballs, but for some kids that’s the thing that’s going to stand out for them this summer,” said Neal. “That might be the thing that keeps them off the street this summer.”

Neal says no matter what they will still hold the free play event on June 4, just with limited resources.

“We know our neighborhood, so we know someone here knows someone,” said Neal.

If you know where this trailer could be, please call Crime Stoppers at (317) 262-TIPS.

To learn more about the Brookside Community Play events and how you can help click here.

“These kids love hard, they work hard, and they have big dreams. We’re just fortunate that we get to come alongside them in that,” said Neal. “These kids need to see a consistent presence who’s here for them and advocating for them.”

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