GARDINER — For the second time in two years, someone broke into the snack shack at Quimby Field and stole candy, snacks, and drinks that volunteers sell to benefit the local baseball league.

The burglary took place Monday night, and the shack’s volunteers spent Tuesday cleaning up the mess. With a game planned for Tuesday evening, they also made an emergency trip to Sam’s Club to replenish the stolen snacks, which totaled $220 in value. Among the pilfered items were potato chips, sour gummies, bottles of chocolate milk and, somewhat inexplicably, coffee creamers.

Roughly $2 in loose change was also taken from the shack.

The burglars appear to have entered the shack by prying open a mesh screen on its side window. Gardiner police are now investigating the break-in, according to Chief James Toman. He asks anyone with information to contact Officer Marcus Niedner by calling the dispatch center at 624-7076.

While Toman advised people in the area to be vigilant, he did not think the incident was related to the drug problem that has been driving more serious property crimes across the state and region.

“With most drug related crimes, you’re seeing force and you’re seeing them either stealing money or burglarizing items to trade,” Toman said. “Candy bars and bubble gum is not your typical burglary to feed a drug habit. This would be more indicative of juveniles. This seems more like a teenage gig.”

Toman said investigators are vetting several potential suspects.

The shack is located at Quimby Field on Lincoln Avenue.

Those who operate the shack are distressed that burglars would target a business that is run by volunteers and donates all its proceeds to a youth organization. Sales from the shack help fund the operations of the Gardiner little league, which is affiliated with the nationwide Cal Ripken Baseball organization and gets players from here and surrounding towns.

The shack is usually open five days a week and made a profit of $5,000 last summer, according to Brad Dostie, a local parent who runs the shack with his wife, Heidi McLaughlin. Proceeds have funded everything from league uniforms to baseballs to a large pile of dirt that is used for maintenance of Quimby Field.

“There’s no such thing as ‘dirt cheap’ unless you dig it yourself,” Dostie said of that pile, adding that it cost more than $1,000. “When people get annoyed about the prices, we tell them that’s why a cheeseburger costs $3.50. They kind of give us the evil eye.”

Some parents have already come forward to help pay for the costs to restock the snack shack, Dostie said. Besides the monetary loss, he said the burglary could also have a negative effect on those who live near the field and the youths who play on it.

“Kids are up here and now they have to know that someone broke into the place and stole from them,” Dostie said. “That’s why I’m so bothered.”

After another burglary in 2014, the volunteers had a garage-style door installed at the shack’s service window and posted signs indicating that no cash is stored on the premises. The volunteers now plan to add other security measures.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

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