GENEVA, Ohio, (WJW) – Police in Geneva are trying to identify thieves who broke into the concession stand at Geneva Memorial Field on Friday night by forcing open a serving window.

Organizers of the Geneva Youth Football League say the callous crooks took merchandise worth hundreds of dollars that the organization sells to help field up to five football teams and cheerleader squads each year. Those make up of 140 children, ranging in age from five to 12 years old.

The break-in has struck a nerve with many Geneva residents, who view the football league as part of the fabric of this city of nearly 6,000 people.

“You’re just taking away from that and it’s hard enough for some of these parents to afford pads, shoes, helmets, stuff like that and it ticks me off,” said Ed Grubb, who lives near Memorial Field.

When organizers of the league posted news about the break-in on social media, residents in Geneva and the surrounding area of Ashtabula County began offering donations.

“That is straight up awesome. The community pulls together like that all the time, I’ve heard different stories like that and that is really nice to know that the community has got its own back,” said Grubb.

Many residents suspect that juveniles, who may not fully understand the damage they’re doing, are to blame for the break-in and they feel the punishment should fit the crime.

“I’d go old school on them,” Grubb said. “Just have them go out here and mow the lawn, pull weeds. There’s a dog park over there you can clean up, you know, just to set an example. Don’t do it again.” 

In addition to the donations, several businesses in Geneva are organizing fundraisers to help offset the losses from the break-in.