STUART, Iowa — Initially, when Life Scout Cain Brandon performed a weekly dump of his Troop 167 B.S.A’s fundraising cans, he saw positivity.
“Helps with sending the boys out to go camping. That way they don`t have to pay a fee themselves,” said 17-year-old Brandon.
He also saw his goals of funding his Eagle Scout project of a map board at the cemetery. “It`ll tell people where their friends and family are if they want to pay respects and leave flowers for them,” Brandon said.
Lately, he sees despair. Thieves are depleting the can cage. Most recently the amount in the cage was cut in half. Brandon said, “Every time we take in cans, we get $200 to $300 out of the cage, so that was $150 that was lost. That`s a few camping trips for all the boys right there.”
The Stuart Parks and Recreation Department has a smaller cage at Lawbaugh Park where they hope to help pay for farmers’ market picnic tables and playground equipment, but thieves have also set them back on multiple occasions. “Wait a minute, the lock is completely gone, nothing there, they left the can cage open and half the pop cans were gone,” said Parks and Recreation volunteer Barb Boss.
The Stuart Police Department has launched an investigation. “You’re not just stealing pop cans, you are stealing from good causes and people that are raising money for good things in the community,” said Stuart Police Chief David Reha.
The Stuart Parks and Rec Department says criminal activity doesn`t stop with pop cans. Footprint evidence is still left from a damaged storage building door from an attempted break in mid-September. Reha said, “This building here in the park they damaged is unnecessary and now the city has to pay to fix that and repair things.”
The thieves are stealing from and damaging a piece of Stuart`s future. “Those cans are for a good cause,” said Brandon.
Ross added, “It`s going to be for the kids and for future equipment and it`s just not right.”
It’s a problem police believe they aren`t far away from correcting. “I can`t go into details, but someone will be arrested for this,” said Reha.
The Stuart Police Department is seeking the public’s help for any information leading to an arrest. They hope to continue keeping the can cages open.