Carlee Montgomery, daughter of Montgomery Tent & Awning Company, Inc. owner and vice president Kenny Montgomery, says the trailer has been located.
INDIANAPOLIS — An Irvington family is asking community members to keep an eye out after a thief stole a trailer and its contents, valued at more than $50,000, from their business on Indianapolis’ near east side Saturday morning.
The theft was caught on nearby surveillance cameras from a home and business.
“It was pretty overwhelming at first when I received a phone call from one of my neighbors,” said Kenny Montgomery, owner and vice president of Montgomery Tent & Awning Company, Inc.
He said a neighbor heard commotion in the alley and notified police when he realized what was happening, but by the time officers arrived, the trailer was gone.
“It’s really disappointing,” said Kenny’s daughter, Carlee Montgomery. “The audacity that someone would have to come onto someone else’s property and take a piece of their livelihood for themselves is very disheartening.”
The business, passed down through generations, has been a part of the Montgomery family since 1923.
“It’s been a part of my life, my whole life, my dad’s whole life, and a lot of energy and stress comes with owning a small family business,” said Carlee. “It’s a hit to morale for sure. It’s very stressful running a small business, and when things like this happen, it kind of puts the pressure on.”
Kenny described what was stolen as a 24-foot open bed trailer, with a unique “flared tail end” similar to the appearance of a car carrier. He said it’s a heavy duty, dual wheel trailer with 12,000-pound plates on it, and it sits about three feet above the ground. It had a tarp on top covering the materials when it was stolen.
“It’s a rather unique looking trailer. I’ve not seen another one like it,” said Kenny. “The trailer is somewhat replaceable, you know, but everything that was on it, all of those tents. We’ve manufactured our own tents for all of these years, and so it really is personal.”
Kenny said these tents take “weeks on weeks on weeks” to build, and so this theft impacts not only him, but his entire team that worked on these over time.
“I really hate to think about what they would do with it,” Kenny said. “It probably would mean nothing to them, but to me it means the world. It means everything.”
Kenny said there were several tents, including a 60 by 90-foot tent, a 40 by 40-foot tent and several other smaller tents. There was also a black, wooden box on the front and hardware so that the company was prepared for whatever type of staking they needed as they set up for the job the trailer was loaded for.
Once he learned of the theft Saturday, his thoughts immediately shifted to what he needs to do to still get the job done for his customers.
“I start worrying about, you know, meeting obligations,” he said. “This impacts not just me and my family but all of our employees and obviously our customers.”
“He’s trying to make sure that he can still get this job done. All of the materials that were taken from that are for a job that’s coming up on Tuesday,” said Carlee. “I can just hear the stress in his voice, and I know he’s not really eating today. He doesn’t really have time.”
According to Kenny, the materials were loaded up on the trailer, which did have a lock on it, and ready to go for a big job this coming week: the Putnam County Fair. He said they are on a tight schedule to get everything taken care of now, but will be taking an inventory of what they have and start reloading the best they can.
Some things they won’t be able to duplicate, and it will be a tough task, but Kenny said it will get done. He said he is overwhelmed with the support offered by area businesses that specialize in tent rentals. Several have reached out and said they are ready to help in any way they can, according to Kenny.
“The response from the community has been incredible, and we’re so touched that so many people care and want to help us right this wrong and find justice, so that kind of lessens the blow for sure,” Carlee added.
One of the business’ customers, Lisa Watson, president of the Benton House Association, said that Kenny and his family have been a huge part of the community for years. She said any outdoor wedding or occasion from wedding showers to anniversary parties and in between, the Montgomery family has supplied tents for.
“They also, for us personally, every year they sponsor our used book sale by donating the tents and allowing us to fill our parking lot with used books and keep them safe and dry,” said Watson.
She shared that the fundraiser, coming up this week, would not be possible without their donations over the years.
“We appreciate everything that he and his team does. It’s a pleasure to work with them, and we know that the success of so many of our events would not be successful without Kenny and his team,” said Watson. “I sure hope we can find this tent for him and all of his materials that were stolen because it hits hard, and it hits all of us.”
Summer is some of the busiest months for Montgomery Tent & Awning Company between weddings and other events. Kenny said they have been extremely busy, and in June, it can be so busy that it’s hard to keep up.
Losing tents, tools and a trailer crucial to their business will make that even harder, but Kenny said they will do their best to push forward and meet the need of everyone they promised jobs for.
“Every day is a new day, somewhere else somebody needs a tent. We’re going to meet these obligations one way or another,” he said.
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said Saturday that the trailer and its contents had not yet been recovered. The theft is being investigated by IMPD.
Anyone with information on the theft should contact IMPD by dialing 317-327-3811.