PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — An item vital to helping fundraising efforts in the Portsmouth community was stolen from the Churchland Masonic Lodge on High Street in the last two weeks. They’re hoping someone can help them find who took it.
The group uses the smoker multiple times a year for fundraisers in the community. They most recently helped some Churchland High School seniors pay off debt so they could graduate, now instead of giving money back at their next fundraiser, they’re going to have to replace what was lost.
“There was a strap around it so they cut that lock and then it had a tongue lock on it so they cut two locks with it,” said member Nick Walker.
Members of the Churchland Masonic Lodge say a black smoker — shaped like an old oil drum — and the red trailer it was sitting on were both taken from their back parking lot in late October.
Walker said they saw the trailer Oct. 15, but when they came back Oct. 19, it was gone.
“It’s back off the beaten path,” Walker said. “It’s not a normal place that someone would be walking through. I kind of feel like it was targeted.”
Walker said they use the smoker multiple times a year to raise money for local charities. They most recently helped Churchland High School seniors pay off any debt they had to the school so they could graduate.
“I feel like they’re taking it from our community because we give so much back to the community through the organization through these fundraisers,” Walker said. “It hurts, very sad that somebody would do that.”
Proceeds from their Nov. 18 spaghetti fundraiser now have to be repurposed.
“That was going to go to Churchland High School as well for their band department, but obviously, that’s not in the plans now,” Walker said. “That money is going to be used to try to replace this cooker. It’s a vital part of our organization for our fundraising efforts.”
A few members have gone to neighboring businesses to see if it will show up on security footage, but so far, no luck.
“We’ve got a few members that are police officers,” Walker said. “They’ve scanned cameras there. We’ve gone to the local businesses to see if there’s footage and nobody’s seen anything yet, so we are asking for the community to look out for it.”
Walker said the smoker had previously been donated by another member, but between the smoker and the trailer, it’s going to cost them about $5,000 to replace the items.
The fundraiser for the new smoker is coming up from 4 to 7 p.m. Nov. 18 at the lodge. In the meantime, if you know anything that could help, call the Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP.
If you’d like to donate to the group, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.