Although break-ins and thefts had occurred at the complex before, this one was different, according to DYSL President Roy Immekus. “Each time somebody came in earlier they kind of trashed the place,” he said. “This was more surgical – there was no damage on this one. I don’t want to say we were suspicious (that it was an inside job), but it didn’t seem like the normal kind of stuff that kids steal.”
With the arrest last week of AYSC President Douglas Bray for stealing sports and maintenance equipment from the complex, Immekus’ suspicions have been raised that Bray might have been responsible. As of last week, Immekus was awaiting word from Antioch police on whether any of the league’s property was found among the items recovered from Bray’s residence in Brentwood.
Bray, 47, was charged with grand theft and possession of stolen property and booked into the Martinez Detention Facility. Bail was set at $40,000. Police had received reports for the last year and a half about several equipment thefts at the complex, but Antioch police had no solid leads. The break came when someone purchased softball equipment on Craigslist and discovered it was part of the stolen equipment from AYSC.
“I think it’s really sad,” said Immekus. “The part that bothers me more than anything else is he was taking things that children use. If he stole my car, I wouldn’t be happy but I could live with it. But he stole bats and balls from kids. Replacing those (soccer) uniforms was not very difficult and we got help from the vendor with the price. That was OK. But the baseball little leagues don’t have a lot of money. When you take that equipment away from them, you really hurt them.”
Delta Baseball League President David Wood noted in a statement on the league Web site that Bray was formerly involved with that league, but added that no further comment would be made on the case until the investigation is completed. The Antioch Little League, which also uses the AYSC, did not respond to requests for comment.
While the DYSL was eventually able to replace the uniforms, the kids were inconvenienced in the meantime. “The vendor is a great company, but when you give them an order for 500 new uniforms, they can’t produce that overnight,” said Immekus. “I think the thing that was worst of all was those uniforms got lost before Opening Day. They didn’t get to march in the parade and get their pictures taken until later in the season.”
Immekus said he’s met Bray a couple of times in conjunction with AYSC. “He always struck me as kind of a big, aggressive guy,” he said.
The DYSL, which provides soccer recreation for kids throughout East County, but mostly for those in Antioch, uses the AYSC fields for its younger and special-needs kids, paying about $12,000 to $13,000 for rental of the fields and use of the storage facilities. After previous break-ins, security was increased by new lighting, cameras and thicker locks. Immekus said that, ironically, Bray “would have been a part of that whole discussion about what security system we were going to put in.”
He added that he hopes this incident will not cast a shadow over the youth sports community: “People should remember that despite what Doug Bray may have done, an overwhelming majority of the people in the community who are part of the youth sports program are wonderful people.”