Thieves steal van filled with thousands of dollars in sports equipment

FOX 32 NEWS - Thieves drove off Friday with a van from the Chatham neighborhood, taking more than just a motor vehicle. They got away with something else, too, something that has greatly hurt members of a youth basketball team.

You could say dreams are what's missing now for a group of young men, with aspirations of playing college basketball. The owner of the van is their coach, and that van was holding thousands of dollars in team equipment.

“It hurt me a little bit but we're gonna get past it because it's not the first issue that happened and like every obstacle that through at us, we get past it,” said player Derrick Moore.

Members of the  "Back 2 Basics" basketball club, who've won many trophies, lost just about everything they need to keep playing when someone stole their coach's 2002 Chrysler Townline van, right in front of his house on 87th street.

"My wife stayed up til probably 12, and then I woke up at 5:30 and the van was gone,” said Brent Johnson, coach.

Brent Johnson couldn't believe his eyes.

“But it wasn't any broken glass or anything, it just was vanished,” said Johnson.

Johnson's heart broke as he realized all the team's equipment was in it.

“It was weight vests, weight balls, it was all basketballs. Two of the basketballs are $300 balls,” said Johnson.
It’s up to $5-thousand in all. With summer here, Johnson's concerned about his team's safety. Practices and games kept them off the streets for hours at a time.

“That's two or three hours they're away from the street. That's two or three hours that they won't be possibly get shot at, so that's important to me, and the I'm using the sport to mentor them,” said Johnson.

Derrick Moore has appreciated the mentoring on and off the court.

“As I started learning more, he started moving me up and then I started to be held responsible for a lot of stuff,” said Moore.

Older-model Chrysler vans was one of Chicago's most stolen vans this past spring. If you'd like to help the basketball club, you can check out their website at www.Back2TheBasic.com.

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