NEW YORK CITY — A baseball team at a Hell's Kitchen high school had nearly all of its gameday equipment stolen from the coach's car after playing the first game of the season last week.
Helmets, bats, baseballs, bases, catchers equipment and a $1,500 AED defibrillator were stolen from the coach's Mazda6 parked on Ryer Avenue between 187th and 186th Streets in Fordham Heights, according to Jesus Perez, who coaches the school's junior varsity team.
Perez — who is responsible for transporting gameday equipment for the Business of Sports School's baseball team — parked his car near his apartment in Fordham Heights near Grand Concourse after the team's first game on Randall's Island on the evening of March 29.
He discovered the theft the next day at 9 p.m., when he and his girlfriend returned to the car and noticed the doors were unlocked, he said.
Perez claims he locked the car the night before, but there were no signs of forced entry.
His girlfriend screamed when she opened the passenger-side door and saw the inside of the car in disarray, with the glove compartment open, as well as the team's equipment and Perez's own sports bag missing, Perez said.
Police confirmed that Perez had filed a report regarding the theft.
"It came as a shock. I don't know why someone would take a bag full of kids equipment," the coach said. "It has the name of the school... you could tell."
This is Perez's third year living in Fordham Heights, although he has only owned the car for a year. He said he now feels scared to park in the same area.
"You don't know in the neighborhood. Was someone watching the car or watching you?" Perez wondered.
The loss of equipment has left the team devastated, he added.
"A lot of our kids don't come from families that are wealthy so we don't want to add extra money that they have to spend," he said.
Business of Sports School Principal Joshua Solomon estimated that 90 percent of students at the magnet school are on a free- or reduced-lunch program.
The school opened in 2009 at 439 49th St., between Ninth and 10th avenues, as part of the larger High School of Graphic Communication Arts campus. The public school, serving roughly 430 students, focuses on sports business curriculum and supplies nearly all recreational sports equipment to students for free, Solomon explained.
He said dozens of people have called the school with "generous" offers to replace the lost equipment. The school is working with the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) to replace the gear as soon as possible.
"We are working closely with the school to identify the team's needs and allocate resources to ensure the student athletes have access to the necessary equipment," said PSAL spokeswoman Toya Holness.
For now, the teams plan on borrowing extra equipment that players might have at home, but the situation would leave them "in a pickle" if any of the borrowed equipment is damaged during a game, Perez said.