The members of Boy Scout Troop 218 in north Spokane were crushed last month when someone stole their trailer full of camping equipment one week before a camping trip, but they were quickly buoyed by the rapid response of the community.
The white trailer, covered with large Boy Scout logos and their troop number, was parked at Covenant United Methodist Church. The troop was in the process of completing a building on the site where they would store their trailer, but it lacked a garage door, said Troop Master Richard Parrish.
The trailer was usually parked at a member’s home but was moved to the church only days before it went missing.
“We thought that was a safe area,” Parrish said. “It was well lit.”
Parrish saw the trailer on his way to and from work on July 21 and July 22. It was gone when Parrish drove to work the morning of July 23. After making a few phone calls to check that none of the Boy Scout families had picked up the trailer, Parrish reported it stolen and started putting the word out on social media and to local news outlets.
The troop members were shocked by the theft, Parrish said. “It’s kind of hard to fathom that anyone would steal from the Boy Scouts,” he said. “They were really disappointed.”
Within 24 hours the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office received a tip that the trailer was on a property off Dalton Road near Deer Park. Deputies recovered the trailer and arrested Devon J. Holt, who is being held in the Spokane County Jail on $20,000 bond on a charge of second-degree possession of stolen property. He’s also being held on an unrelated charge of first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.
“They had all our gear strewn all over their property,” Parrish said.
Someone went to some lengths to try to disguise the clearly marked trailer, Parrish said. They tried painting over the logos and then screwed boards on the side of the trailer also in an apparent effort to cover up the logos and printing.
“They must have run out (of paint),” Parrish said. “Then they put a tarp over it.”
Parrish estimates that 80 percent of their equipment was recovered. Several tents, camping stoves, axes, water jugs, saws, lanterns and cooking items were missing and have not been recovered. Some items that were found on the property had been damaged.
The trailer had contained enough gear for five patrols. Each patrol includes between five and eight boys.
Parrish works for the Bureau of Land Management and has been serving as an incident commander on several local fires, most recently the Kettle Ridge fire near Curlew, Washington, and he hasn’t been home to fully inspect what is left.
“All the gear hasn’t been pulled out and inventoried,” he said.
When the trailer first went missing, Parrish launched a GoFundMe page seeking donations of $10,000 to replace the gear. When the trailer was recovered, he lowered it to $3,500. After a big response from the community, he closed it down at $2,200.
“The American Legion stepped up and made a pretty substantial donation,” Parrish said.
Even when things looked grim, Parrish was determined to take his group of 14 older boys on their planned 110-mile canoe trip down the Missouri River starting in Montana. “The boys had been planning it for so long,” he said. “None of the adult leaders were willing to call that off.”
Parrish said he’s grateful for the effort from the community and the Sheriff’s Office to quickly recover the trailer. “The auto theft task force was amazing to work with,” he said.
Now the trailer is kept in a locked building and has a lock on the tongue of the trailer to prevent anyone from driving off with it again. However, Parrish said the troop will likely sell the damaged trailer and get a new one. “It doesn’t pencil out to repair it,” he said.
The members of Troop 218 are all grateful for the help they received to complete their camping trip, Parrish said.
“I think they were overwhelmed at the amount of support they received from the community,” he said.
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