SUN VALLEY, Nev. (KOLO) For the past two years, John Crabtree and the other volunteers for Reno Battle Born BMX Track have been working hard to make the dirt bike track in Sun Valley the best in the area.
"When we took the track over it was dead last in the state, dead last in numbers," he said. "We're number 2 in the state, number 1 in the district after 2 years."
Crabtree says part of that success is due to the dedication of volunteers who spend countless hours rebuilding and maintaining the track throughout the year. But another part of their success is due to their motto- 'For the community, by the community', and their mission to make sure every kid who wants it has a chance to ride.
"That's the most important thing is we basically want everybody to feel like this is their second home, and that they have something to do," Crabtree said.
Every week kids from all backgrounds and from all income levels come to the Reno Battle Born BMX Track to race. But BMX is an expensive sport. Bikes can cost anywhere from a few hundred to 1000 dollars. There are also fees involved with racing. Crabtree says the organization tries to break down that barrier for as many kids as possible.
"A lot of kids don't have the money to do it," he said. "We're one of the few tracks that gives free loaner equipment- helmets, leathers, jerseys, bicycles things like that that we let them use. It's important for us to facilitate these kids when they come in whether it be with helmets, or leathers, or jerseys. Kids come in and they don't even have the right shoes. They come in with sandals and short sleeve shirts, and we need to have those kinds of things for them."
But sometime from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day, those much-needed items were taken from a storage trailer on the property.
Crabtree and his son discovered the theft Tuesday when they went to the track to work on new runs. But when they got there, they found the gate and storage unit open. The thieves had broken the locks and helped themselves to the contents inside.
"There was 5 bicycles that were gone, helmets, inner tubes, things like that that were just missing," he said. "We came down here to do work and spend a day working on the track, and we weren't able to do that."
That's because the thieves also stole the non-profit's quad that is used to rebuild the track. Without it, the organization is set back about a week in the rebuilding process.
"First week in January we're suppose to be racing, and I'm not gonna have bikes for kids to ride so it hurts," Crabtree said.
It's especially painful for Crabtree, who built many of the loaner bikes in his garage using spare parts from his own children's bikes as well as parts donated from other riders. He estimates the value of the stolen items to be around $10,000.
"It's kind of a big blow, you know, when you put your heart and soul into something, and you reach out to people, when you gather the parts, and you build the bikes, and you watch kids ride them every weekend," he said. "We're just a small 501(c)(3) non-profit. It's not a big money-making deal, so we don't have a ton of money. So when something like this happens it really hurts."
Crabtree says he's not sure if the thieves are familiar with the track or just drove by and saw what was stored on site. But without security footage he knows it will be hard to find the people responsible
"What we can do is move forward in a positive way, and just try to make sure we can get what's needed to get it done," he said. "If I gotta bring more bikes from my house, that's what we'll do."
He says he's also considered dipping into his own savings to try to replace what he can.
"It's what it takes to get kids off the streets," he said. "Keeping them out of trouble."
Crabtree says at least one business has already pledged a donation to help replace the stolen items. The organization is working with law enforcement and asks that anyone with information about the theft contact Secret Witness or the Washoe County Sheriff's Office.
To contact Reno Battle Born BMX to help, click here.