STOCKTON, CA - The son of South Stockton Vikings coach Ernest Bass knew something was wrong as soon as he stepped outside Friday morning.
"He saw the (shed) door was wide open," said his mother Bernice Bass. "Most of the South Stockton Vikings stuff was gone."
Overnight, thieves had broken the lock and stolen football helmets, shoulder pads, pants and footballs, all equipment the team had acquired in great part through community donations.
"Some kids can't pay the registration fee, so with the community helping, that's how we supply all the equipment," Bass said.
In the south Stockton area, the Pop Warner football team offers young boys a positive alternative, said Bass.
"It keeps them out of gangs and drugs. It keeps them from robbing your house, my house and all the other things they could be into," Bass said.
Bass said that's one of the reasons the loss is such a blow.
"For the people out there who took these things, drop them off at the post office, return them -- do something because you're hurting the kids in the community," Vikings concession stand manager Teresa Spivey said. "They work hard for this and they do need their stuff back."
The Vikings have been around for 40 years. One of the team's former players Lynell Hamilton not only made it to NFL, but played in the Super Bowl last January with the victorious New Orleans Saints.