The supporters of the Ripon High School athletic stadium construction are angry over the theft of an $11,500 Rhino 4-wheel quad used in the last three years of the multi-million dollar restoration project.
Ripon, being a close knot community, with so much in cash and labor donated to the stadium cause, the theft has rocked the town as many have a personal attachment to the program.
Ripon Community Athletic Foundation President Stephanie Hobbs’s husband Vince, who has worked tirelessly on his days off to make the stadium reconstruction a success, found the Rhino missing from its locked storage area near the visitors’ bleachers at about 11 a.m. Friday while on the campus spraying weeds.
The vehicle had been taken from its locked metal storage shed by thieves who had cut through the chain link fence and drilled out the lock on door of the small building. In addition to almost constant use in the stadium construction, it was also used by coaches in the soccer and baseball programs.
Hobbs said stadium project had just put $1,000 into maintenance on the Rhino – from money that had come from Ripon donors. The dark green 4-wheel Yamaha Rhino has no doors and no tailgate installed. A Yamaha dealer in Modesto told stadium construction officials Friday that the quad or gator replacement value was $11,500 but that a similar used vehicle would cost a lesser $6 to $7,000.
Stephanie Hobbs said that her Facebook responses to the theft have been lighting up her computer since word spread throughout the community on Friday. “It was originally donated to the school district,” she said. “Someone was definitely familiar with things out on the field.”
“Unless you’ve worked in the stadium, it’s impossible to understand the impact of this loss on the whole athletic program at the school – not to mention all the great construction memories. Please keep your eyes open,” she asked of the community members.
One Ripon citizen wrote, “This is why we can’t have nice things. Who thinks it’s okay to steal stuff that is necessary to improve the school? Wonder if they would be happy if I stole their car and accidentally rolled an armor column over it?”
Another interjected, “That is horrible! Hopefully the power of social media will help it to be found.”
A Ripon man said, “I have many, many adjectives going through my mind at the moment, but I’m keeping it clean.”
“That’s pathetic,” another remarked, “instead of giving to such a good cause, those low lives, whoever they may me, took something away.” One high school administrator retorted, “Sad and disappointed! I will do my best to help catch the person or persons responsible.”
At the end of the day Friday police were going over video tapes from cameras in the area.