Theft at national competition disheartens cheerleading team

 
 
  • Ace Athletics Cheerleading squad members practice a routine.

    Ace Athletics Cheerleading squad members practice a routine. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Ace Athletics Cheerleading coach Jeff Siegal talks about the theft the team incurred while competing at the NCA All-Star National Cheerleading Competition in Dallas last weekend.

    Ace Athletics Cheerleading coach Jeff Siegal talks about the theft the team incurred while competing at the NCA All-Star National Cheerleading Competition in Dallas last weekend. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • The Ace Athletics Cheerleading senior coed team gathers with their trophies at the Gymnastics Spot in Mundelein.

    The Ace Athletics Cheerleading senior coed team gathers with their trophies at the Gymnastics Spot in Mundelein. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Published: 2/24/2010 12:00 AM

Someone is responsible for stealing more than spirit from a group of Buffalo Grove-based cheerleaders competing over the weekend at a Dallas competition.

Eight bags were reported stolen on Saturday, apparently taken while the cheerleaders performed at the NCA All-Star National Championship Competition at the Dallas Convention Center.

Jeff Siegal, coach and owner of Ace Athletics in Mundelein, said it was the eighth or ninth time his team has competed in the Texas event. After his cheerleaders' bags were swiped, don't hold your breath for their return.

"We will never go back again," Siegal said.

The all-star team features cheerleaders from Elk Grove Village, Highland Park and Libertyville, among other communities.

Siegal and parents of the middle-school and high-school age cheerleaders are angry at Dallas police and the event organizers. They said event organizers should have had security watching their bags, which were placed behind the stage. And they didn't like how police responded. Siegal said some of the cheerleaders used a computer to trace a cell phone in one of the bags using GPS. Siegal said police refused to go to the area because it was dangerous. Dallas police didn't return a phone call seeking comment.

It typically costs about $900 per cheerleader for flights and accommodations for the competition, Siegal said. Thirty-four kids competed, and Siegal said the thefts left them feeling violated.

"This was their big opportunity and it was all taken from them," Siegal said

The gym backpacks contained iPods, money, medical cards - even medicine for diabetes, according to police reports. A diabetic cheerleader needed treatment Sunday morning, but fortunately had extra medicine and was OK.

Siegal said his team was in first place on Saturday, but fell to third place on Sunday. He wonders what could have been if the team hadn't been distracted by the stolen bags or if they were recovered.

Siegal hopes his cheerleaders learn a life lesson, but said no one should have to go through this experience.