As the investigation into the stolen bleachers and dugout benches from the CLCF Gals Softball field at Brayton Park continues, the pieces are coming together as to what happened and why.
Parks and Recreation director Tony Liberatore believes the theft took place overnight two Sundays ago.
Deputy Police Chief Todd Patalano said that it appears that a person (or more) drove into the park and unbolted the bleachers, broke them down to remove all of the seating portion as well as the dugout benches, and drove off with all the pieces.
Liberatore said that it’s not difficult to get the bleachers out of the ground because they can just be unbolted from the cement.
“They took them apart with tools,” he said. “All it is is bolts. If you’ve got a ratchet set, you’re good to go.”
The scene of the crime is the furthest-away field from the parking lot, so the thieves would have had to break the pieces down to get them off the property.
The value of the parts is $6,500, said Liberatore. Liberatore and the Parks and Rec. department are footing the bill, and doing the work, to replace both the dugout benches and the bleachers.
“They [CLCF] can’t afford to replace them,” he said. “So as of Monday morning, the two benches in the dugouts have been replaced, and by Thursday, because of the storm, the two sets of bleachers will be replaced.”
The dugout benches, he said, will now be made out of pressurized wooden planks rather than metal.
Major Patalano said that the department is investigating and following up on any new information that comes in.
He said there is an “industry-wide” system in place to locate stolen metals that could be brought to scrap yards. The “uniqueness” of the bleachers and benches would potentially make them easier to identify if they were brought to a scrap yard, he said. He added that they’re “large and unique” items.
Patalano also said that this is the first time something like this happened that he can recall, although Liberatore said a similar occurrence happened “about four or five years ago” at Calise Field on Dyer Avenue.
“The next great question: did they scrap them, sell them, or are they holding onto them?” Patalano said. “Or did they put them somewhere else?”
As the investigation continues, the Parks and Recreation department is working to make sure CLCF softball has their field ready for opening day. Tiffany Spiridakos, one of the heads of the league, couldn’t be reached by deadline, but CLCF spokesman Steve Marocco said that they are “doing their due diligence” as well in regards to the crime.
Mark Schieldrop in the Mayor’s office said, “It’s unfortunate this happened. CLCF has done so much to invest in their facilities over there. There’s a disappointment shared pretty widely between us [the city] and them.”
Major Patalano said that if anyone has information about the crime, they are encouraged to contact Cranston Police’s investigative division.