Aluminum bleachers were stolen recently from the Sachem Youth Advisory Group (SYAG) complex on Smith Road in Lake Ronkonkoma, according to league baseball commissioner Bob Cummings.
With opening day less than six weeks away, parents and fans will be left standing in certain portions at the complex as seven sets of bleachers, worth an estimated $10,000, were completely removed from the area, which houses four fields next to Sachem High School North.
Remnants of the bleachers are scattered throughout the complex and lead to a residential fence for a home located on Damon Lane in the neighborhood directly next to the complex. There were also pieces of bleachers in the back yard of that home, which belongs to Matt Cierzniewski.
Asked if he heard any noise coming from his backyard late at night, Cierzniewski said, “no nothing.”
Recovering from bypass surgery, he said he has not been going back and forth on the property, which he has lived at for 15 years.
Upon learning of the scrap pieces lying around the complex Tuesday morning, Suffolk County Police designated the area as a crime scene and began photographing the area and interviewing S.Y.A.G officials and Cierzniewski shortly after.
The front gates and adjoining fences were not damaged and no locks were cut, according to Cummings, so police and league officials are assuming the bleachers were taken apart and lifted above the residential fence.
“It’s bizarre,” Cummings said. “They’re heavy as heck. You can’t carry them. They’re obviously taking them apart. We’re trying to get ready for opening day and now we have to deal with this.”
S.Y.A.G. has experienced its share of graffiti or vandals breaking into the concession stand, but never had items stolen from the complex like this.
Cummings said a league director noticed one of the bleachers was in the initial stages of being taken apart on February 9, but did not report that to the police. Then on Sunday, February 26, another director noticed the seven bleachers were taken. Cummings also said that one director was there on Wednesday, February 22 and everything was normal at the facility, so the most recent incidents occurred between Wednesday and Sunday.
A set of bleachers closest to the fence near Smith Road was left untouched, as was another set closest to the fence near Sachem North. A third bleacher had part of the seats removed, but was still half intact.
“What do you have to do to protect your own stuff?” Cummings said. “It’s just frustrating. They came in to steal stuff for profit. That’s above and beyond being wrong. That’s blatant.
“We work too hard for the right reasons for them to do this. It’s hurting the kids. Now they’re going to come to opening day and parents aren’t going to have anything to sit on. It’s just wrong.”
John Favazza, 18, of Lake Grove, a product of S.Y.A.G., was walking through the complex Tuesday when he learned of the stolen bleachers for the first time.
“I think they would have to be pretty desperate for money to come to a little league field to steal bleachers,” said Favazza, a senior at Sachem North. “I think it’s ridiculous. I don’t know how they could get away with that. There are a lot of fans and a lot of people who will have to bring lawn chairs I guess. I think it’s pretty sad.”
If you have any information regarding the stolen bleachers, please call Suffolk County Police at 631-852-COPS. All tips will remain anonymous. Cummings said he would like to offer a reward for information leading to the bleachers, but has not set up an amount with the Fourth Precinct yet.
Sachem Patch will provide updates to this story when possible.