Game pants stolen from Ottawa's Bell Warriors Football Club.
Published Monday, August 17, 2015 5:00PM EDT Last Updated Monday, August 17, 2015 6:58PM EDT
Two dozen young football players will be starting their season opener Friday without any game pants.
The pants were stolen from the team manager's car Thursday night. Meanwhile, two stolen jerseys that were part of a charity auction have now been recovered.
It's a foul play for whoever stole these game pants worth about $1500 to the Bell Warriors Football club.
For the 15 and 16-year-old players though, it's not only about the money, it's about fitting in with the team.
Team manager Veronica Papalia was shocked to discover the equipment bags open in her car Friday morning and one bag missing.
‘This is what we are talking about,’ says Papalia, as she holds up a medium-sized pair of pants, ‘game pants; roughly 20 pairs of large pants were taken.’
While the jerseys were messed up, the bag they were in was too heavy to carry. Papalia figures thieves made off with what they could after breaking into another car across the street.
‘It's just devastating that a club that works so hard based on donations and volunteers has to endure this loss to start our season off,’ says Papalia.
The Bell Warriors are a Bantam level team, a competitive football league in an area with many low-income households. The loss is tough, especially with their first game this Friday.
Jake Papalia is 13 years old and plays at the Pee Wee level with the Warriors, ‘I don't know what a person like that would want with football pants,’ he says, ‘and the coaches just preach playing like a team and now they won't look like a team when they're playing on Friday.’
From bad news on one front to good news on another front: the recovery of two stolen jerseys.
The jerseys, signed by two star NHL goaltenders, were part of a silent auction for the Rexall Foundation, bringing in money for children's charities. The jerseys had already drawn $1,100 in bids when they disappeared from the Carlingwood Mall Monday night. But Saturday, after CTV News did a story on the theft, a man matching the description of the suspect was spotted by mall security carrying a bag.
‘He ended up bolting from the mall,’ says Greg Brown, Rexall’s store manager and the man behind the charity auction.
Inside the bag were the two jerseys. They are now up for bid again but this time in the police evidence bags. Brown is hoping the added story will add value for the auction.
‘There’s been a lot of people stopping by to say “did you catch the S.O.B?’ says Brown. ‘I can't discuss that yet but my team and I are so happy to have the jerseys back.’
Papalia is only hoping they will be as lucky and has this message for the thieves.
‘If they could just return them, come clean, I’m good with that,’ she says. ‘You know what? Kids gotta learn from their mistakes, that’s part of life.’
Those jerseys, by the way, were ripped out of their framed boxes. A local businessman, Tom Carter with the Framing and Art Centre, has offered to frame them for free. That silent auction wraps up later today.