Thieves Prey on High School Football Locker Rooms

Administrators at Seaholm High School in Birmingham, Mich., plan to install security cameras outside the school's locker rooms after nine football players reported that their cellphones - which were not secured in lockers - were stolen during an away game on Sept. 1. "When the installation of the new camera system is complete, we will be able to see who enters or leaves the locker rooms, especially when the team is at an away game and no one should be in there," athletic director Aaron Frank recently told Seaholm's Highlander school newspaper. "It is disappointing and frustrating … that one or two folks can impact so many others."

Plenty of other student-athletes have been impacted by high school locker room thefts this fall.

After getting thumped 68-0, many members of Tampa, Fla.'s Leto High School football team returned to the visiting team's locker room at Armwood High in Seffner last Friday night to find their cellphones and iPods missing. "Talking to the principal, he told me that all the doors to the locker room were locked, as well as in the hallway leading to the locker room," Hillsborough County Public Schools spokesperson Linda Cobbe told Tampa's FOX 13 News. "Armwood is going to do everything they can to make sure that whoever did it is prosecuted." A $200 reward is being offered for information that leads to an arrest, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. But no word yet on whether video cameras will be installed outside Armwood's locker rooms.

The group of student-athletes hit hardest by burglars in recent weeks has to be the 30 players on the Frederick Douglass College Preparatory Academy for Young Men's football team. Coaches at the Detroit school discovered Monday that the field house had been broken into and looted for the second time in three years. That first time left the facility a vandalized shell, as thieves grabbed electrical wiring, copper plumbing and toilets, according to the Detroit Free Press. This time, they pulled a heavy door almost off its hinges and walked away with players' pads, helmets, shoes and footballs. Because the helmets were reconditioned and the shoulder pads were several years old, administrators didn't know exactly how much they would cost to replace.

But as news of the crime spread, so did the goodwill. Bob Maxey Ford was the first to step up, donating $3,000 to purchase new gear. "I was thinking, 'How are these kids going to keep playing?' I think it's just important that kids keep busy and keep playing sports and keep going to school," said Robert Maxey, president of the dealership. And Detroit's Allen Academy loaned Douglass coach Al Demps several pairs of shoulder pads. "We've had some donations coming in," he told The Detroit News. "We're reaching out to whomever we can."

The Douglass burglary jeopardized the school's Friday homecoming events, but thanks to donations, the game will still be played at Denby High; according to the News, Douglass has not played a home game all season because its field has been deemed unsafe and its scoreboard fell over. "It's leaning on the sidewalk," Demps said. "I haven't heard it's going to be fixed any time soon."

"This is an all-boys school with youth who have determination, goals and aspirations, and are not just out on the streets sagging," Wanda Dixon, president of a school parent group and whose son plays on the varsity football team, told the Free Press. "Why would somebody steal from them?"

The Detroit Public School Foundation is assisting with Douglass donations and can be contacted at [email protected].

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