GREENWOOD, Ind. — Members of a Greenwood dance studio are working as fast as they can to rebuild and replace items that were inside an equipment trailer stolen from the studio’s parking lot over the weekend.
The efforts have increased in urgency because many of the stolen props and set pieces will be needed at a national dance competition in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee this weekend.
Inspire Dance Company Studio Director Trista Horner says the theft happened some time between 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
“We came in Monday for rehearsals, and it was gone,” Horner said.
Horner said equipment isn’t normally stored in the trailer. However, the studio had recently performed at a recital and the trailer was to be unloaded on Monday.
After the initial shock of the crime came the realization that the team was just a few days from leaving for nationals, and several props and set pieces needed for the competition were suddenly gone.
“Everybody was just kind of sick from it,” Horner said. “These kids work so hard, and 34 kids were just heartbroken on Monday.”
“We didn’t have any of the props, and for some of our dances, we need to use all the props,” said 11-year-old team member Jacob Osburn.
“I just told them we’ll figure it out,” Horner said. “Whatever we have to do to get you to nationals and performing, we’ll do it.”
At that point, Horner says team members and their families responded to the new challenge.
“Literally by that day, parents were going to Home Depot, they were buying things left and right,” she said.
For the last three days, between classes and rehearsals, team members and their families have spent long hours rebuilding platform boxes, set backdrops and other props that will be needed on stage this weekend. They’ve also been purchasing smaller items to be used as hand props during competition.
The clock is ticking, as the team leaves Thursday for Tennessee.
“And the parents have stepped up and worked long hours, but I think we’re almost there,” Horner said.
“I’ve spent more time in the studio this week than I ever have,” said 14-year-old Gabby Julien. “And it’s just been crazy how our team came together in less than three days.”
“We’ve all pitched in and helped out a lot,” said 13-year-old Savana Robb. “So I feel like we’re going to be prepared, and we’ve almost got them all finished, which is good.”
At this point, Horner feels good about being prepared for nationals this weekend. The props are nearly finished, and the team has another trailer on temporary loan.
Beyond this weekend, however, it could still take thousands of dollars to replace several tumbling mats and a balance beam that were lost when the trailer was stolen.
A permanent trailer will also need to be purchased if the stolen one isn’t found and returned. History has shown that is a possibility. In fact, this is the third time this same trailer has been stolen in the last several years. It has been found and returned twice before. Horner hopes that will happen again this time, even if it’s not in time for this weekend’s competition.
“It’s very frustrating, and it just makes me, it just makes me mad that they’re stealing from basically the kids,” she said.
The Johnson County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the theft as Horner is asking everyone to keep an eye out for it. The two-wheel trailer is white with a streak of pink paint on the right side. It has an Indiana trailer license plate of “TR354ZCL.”