UPDATE: Thieves steal pitching machines from East Ridge rec center
EAST RIDGE, TN. (WRCB) -- East Ridge parents, coaches and players are pleading for two pitching machines to be returned.
More than 40 teams use the machines which were stolen.
Coaches can't understand why anyone would steal from children.
"I can't believe it happened," says Gabe Fairchild.
Ten-year-old Gage Fairchild and his teammates learned Wednesday that someone stole their pitching machines.
"We use those machines," Fairchild says. "We don't know what to practice with."
The two machines were stored at the old McBrien Elementary School. It was recently converted into an indoor practice facility.
Combined, they are worth more than $2,000, paid for by East Ridge tax payers.
"All stars is around the corner, and it's not just us that use that facility," says Darryl Forster.
The machines are also a source of income for the department of parks and recreation.
Teams pay to use the facility during bad weather, or to work in a little extra batting practice.
It's a service East Ridge can no longer provide.
"It mainly put us out of softball business," Marvin "Stump" Martin. "That's the worst thing it did to us."
Parents and coaches can't understand why.
"That one person can go in there, or two, whoever did it, and take something from these kids," Forster says. "They work real hard, get out here, and play ball."
"I almost believe they got them not to sell them, but because they wanted them for their own use," says Martin.
But no matter the motive, they just want the machines back.
"No questions asked, we just want to get them back," says Martin.
"I hope they come back," says Fairchild.
Anyone with information about the location or removal of the machines is asked to call the East Ridge Police Department at 423-867-3720 or use the confidential tip line at 423-867-0016.