NJ youth soccer league under attack by vandals — and police can’t stop them
For the past year, the facilities belonging to the Lakehurst-Manchester Soccer Association in Ocean County have been relentlessly attacked by a band of hooded vandals, who struck once again this week.
Parents and volunteers, including LSMA board member Crissy Weiner, say they are at their wit's end after the vandals, once again with their faces covered, looted the snack stand during the predawn hours of Aug. 7. The incident was captured by surveillance cameras.
Proceeds from the club's Color Run in the Spring also were stolen from the club's snack stand during a May break-in, according to Weiner.
"It's a shame. It's a real shame," Weiner said. "They broke into the closet where all the paint and stuff is, and they were drawing obscenities on the little kids' fields, where the three-to-five-year-olds play."
The same families, coaches and volunteers work hard all year to raise money for projects, and each time there's a vandalism incident, the funding has to be spent on repairing the damage or replacing stolen equipment, and Weiner noted that it's usually the club members again who are stuck cleaning up the destruction.
"It's not just financial. It's where we could be putting our energy into trying to get these lights for these fields and some of the projects we have ongoing, we're spending it cleaning up after the vandalism," Weiner said. The club has been trying to get stadium lights for the past three years.
Replacing sod and the fields is expensive, Weiner added. In March, fields were ripped up by what appeared to be all terrain vehicles or dirt bikes.
"That stuff adds up. It's definitely a huge expense for the field and it's unsafe. We had to close down our one field the whole entire season because we can't have players running and falling in ditches and breaking their ankles," Weiner said.
Dealing with the repeated vandalism is "extremely upsetting" and "it's tiring," said Weiner. She stressed the money to repair the damage is basically coming out of the pockets of the club's hard-working families.
Weiner said personally, she just wants the vandalism to stop.
"These teenagers, they were little kids too, probably playing on the same fields," Weiner said. She added if the vandals are caught, she'd like to see them help clean up the damage as punishment.
Police continue to investigate the incidents, but identifying any of the vandals from surveillance images has been difficult because they are wearing hoods and have their faces covered.
Contact reporter Dianne DeOliveira at Dianne.DeOliveira@townsquaremedia.com