Last Friday night was a moment of celebration and anger for the Chamberlain High School football team.
The Chiefs clinched a district title and playoff berth after defeating rival Alonso, 35-21, to improve to 8-0 on the season. However, after returning from Alonso that night, the players and coaches discovered their locker room had been burglarized. Unknown burglars forced their way into the facility, on the campus at 9401 North Blvd. in Tampa, and broke the individual locks on the players' equipment lockers to steal cash, cell phones, jewelry, iPods, clothes, shoes, and car keys for a player's 1995 Chevy Caprice, which was also taken, police say. The players dressed in the locker room before traveling to Alonso.
According to a Tampa Police Department report, between 5:30 and 11 p.m. on Friday, unknown burglars entered the locker room and forcibly entered the players' personal equipment lockers. The owner of the vehicle, senior lineman Danny Major, left his car keys inside his locker. The car was parked in the east parking lot next to the locker room. Chamberlain assistant coach Brian Turner said Major owned an expensive stereo system.
According to the police report, the lockers were entered by using bolt cutters to cut the padlocks. This past summer, players and coaches spent days cleaning and renovating the locker room.
Turner estimated $10,000 to $15,000 worth of property was taken.
"Sentimental stuff was taken," Turner said. "It's not like these kids can go and get a new phone just like that. That put a damper on our season."
Head coach Billy Turner, now in his 30th season at Chamberlain, said the event "ruined the night."
"They were so upset, some of the kids were crying," Brian Turner said.
Brian Turner and Chamberlain Principal Jeff Boldt think the burglars were familiar with the facility.
"The power was shut off," Brian Turner said.
"We've had break-ins, but nothing like this," Boldt said. "They had to have knowledge of the locker room. That's what makes it so frustrating. The kids work hard and the parents work hard to get these kinds of items. The things they lost were personal property."