SOUTH ABINGTON TWP. — It was likely meant as a prank.
But they aren’t laughing.
Two sets of 20 plastic flamingos were stolen from the Abington Heights Comets varsity cheerleaders, potentially setting the squad’s summer fundraising efforts back by several hundred dollars.
The first incident, according to April Beky of the Abington Heights Comets Boosters, occurred over the weekend of Aug. 7 from the lawn of the NBT Bank on Grove Street in Clarks Green. The second happened after dark Wednesday, Aug. 10 or early Thursday, Aug. 11 from the 600 block of Fairview Road.
According to Head Varsity Cheerleading Coach Tia Molnar, the person who took the first set of flamingos was identified with the use of social media and already returned a portion of the items. The person or persons responsible for the second theft, however, is or are still at large.
Anyone with information is asked to call the South Abington Township Police Department at 570-586-2111 or the high school at 570-585-5300.
Police Chief Robert Gerrity said he would “strongly suggest” to the person or people who took the items that they “realize they’re hurting a good cause” and return them.
“As funny as it may sound, it’s a theft and it’s a crime,” he said.
The yard decorations are part of a “flocking” fundraiser conducted by the squad over the summer to help pay for uniforms, pink pom-poms for a breast cancer awareness event, camp and more. One hundred flamingos were purchased in bulk for about $300 total by a parent who donated them to the squad. Signage, which was also purchased for the fundraiser, was stolen as well.
“Somebody was kind enough to donate these,” Molnar said. “And now to have this happen is frustrating.
“The most frustrating thing for me is it’s a fundraiser. …It’s disappointing.”
But even with this setback, Sandy Dana, president of the boosters, said the fundraiser has been a success and was “positively received” by the community.
“It’s still going well despite these glitches,” she said, adding the group is thankful for the many people who donated, even above and beyond the requested amount.
For the fundraiser, the cheerleaders divided into five teams of about eight members. Each of these teams “flocks” the homes of their supporters, leaving notes asking for donations in exchange for the removal of the flamingos. After 24 hours, the girls come back to collect the money and retrieve their flock, then move it to the next location on the list. A donation of $10 makes the pink birds disappear, and $20 or more insures they will not return.
Although two of the teams were at least temporarily put out of the flocking business by the thefts, the squad plans to continue the fundraiser until Aug. 26. Local police departments will monitor the homes that are flocked during the remainder of this time, to help insure the safety of the properties and deter any further crime.