Lansing-area Scouts call trailer theft ‘major setback’

The Detroit News

Scouting and camping go hand in hand.

So when Lansing-area Boy Scout Troop 111 found its troop trailer stolen, the loss hit hard, said Dennis Armistead, assistant scoutmaster. Troop leaders put the loss at between $15,000 to $20,000.

Troop 111’s trailer containing all of the troop’s gear for outdoor activities such as camping, Mackinac Island guides and Mackinac Island Honor Guard service was stolen between Thursday morning and 8 a.m. Friday, troop leaders said. Portland police said the trailer was recovered Tuesday, stripped bare, including the metal shelves.

The scouts noticed the trailer was missing Monday from the parking lot at First United Methodist church at 3827 Delta River Drive in Lansing when they gathered for a ceremony for scouts advancing through the troop’s ranks.

Armistead called “immeasurable” the loss of U.S. flags “awaiting proper retirement honors” also in the trailer. The troop’s scoutmaster Alan Wright called the theft “a major setback for our outdoor program.”

“But we will recover,” he said.

Troop leaders said they've had many people contact them about how they can help replace the gear that was stolen. They said they've set up a link on the troop's webpage for donations.

"These boys will repay every kindness in the currency of decency, service, and cheerful good deeds," said Armistead. "That is my pledge and obligation as a leader in the troop."

Michael Armistead, 16, is the son of Dennis Armistead, and a Life Scout, the rank just before Eagle Scout. He is the senior patrol leader of the troop and a veteran of the Mackinac Honor Guard. He said the person who took the trailer “basically just told our boys: This important thing that you want to do, it doesn’t matter to me.”

“A scout has to have a certain number of camping hours to advance up the ranks,” said Michael Armistead. “Now our tents are gone. You have to cook a certain number of meals with your troop to move up the ranks. Our ovens and patrol boxes all gone. Whoever did this not only stole our belongings, but they’ve stolen from our boys their hopes and the goals for their scouting experience. That’s what hurts the most — trying to explain to a group of boys who have sworn to live by a set of values that the world doesn’t always respect those values.”

The trailer is described as white with a license plate number B450163. A “111” is on the back left corner of the trailer’s back doors.

“The loss is significant in that every bit of gear we own is gone,” said Dennis Armistead. “Our ability to get the boys outside and camp is now devastated. Camping is an essential part of the outdoor scouting program. We have our faith, and the community of scouts who may help us out, but the reality is we don’t have a single piece of gear left.

“Everything was in the trailer.”