St. Paul robotics team pleads for return of stolen trailer needed for competition .

First aid

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  • Julian Klemann and Tristan Kmoch of the Highland Park High School robotics team work on the wiring of their competitive robot. The theft of the team's trailer on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020, has put at risk the group's participation in a March 5 competition. (Highland Park High School)
  • Members of the Highland Park High School robotics team are shown with their robot in a recent photo. The theft of the team's trailer on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020, has put at risk the group's participation in a March 5 competition. (Highland Park High School)
  • A robot constructed by members of the Highland Park High School robotics team is scheduled to appear in a March 5 competition. However, the theft of the team's trailer on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020 has put in peril the team's immediate future. Shown in this photo are team mentors Jeremy White and Doug Kmoch. (Highland Park High School)
  • Members of the Highland Park High School robotics team are shown at work on their robot. Julian Klemann, right, is a junior; Lydia Anderson, left, is a team alumnus and advisor. The theft of their trailer on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020 has put in peril the team's participation in a March 5 competition. (Highland Park High School)
  • Elizabeth Franco (center) and Caleb Robinson of the Highland Park High School robotics team work on the programming of their competitive robot. The theft of the team's trailer on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020, has put at risk the group's participation in a March 5 competition. (Highland Park High School)
  • Athena Tran, Magdalena Eggen Lim and Duncan Ong of the Highland Park High School robotics team work on parts for their competitive robot while strategizing about upcoming activities. The theft of the team's trailer on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020, has put at risk the group's participation in a March 5 competition. (Highland Park High School)
  • Duncan Ong, Zoe Glaser and Caleb Heaps of the Highland Park High School robotics team work on their competitive robot. The theft of the team's trailer on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020, has put at risk the group's participation in a March 5 competition. (Highland Park High School)

A trailer belonging to the Highland Park High School robotics team believed to have been stolen Sunday morning was found hours later and is now in the city’s impound lot.

The trailer did not contain the team’s robot.

Details about where the trailer was found and whether it still contained equipment and supplies necessary for the team to compete in a major regional competition in Duluth in a three weeks was not available as of early Sunday afternoon.

Most of the team is at a robot competition in Eden Prairie, said Marta Shore, business mentor for the team. Once they return they will visit the trailer and see what shape it is.

“We should know more later. We are all prioritizing demonstrating and using our robot at this competition,” Shore said, noting she was thrilled the trailer was found.

“As a team we are so incredibly grateful it was found. Trailers are usually not found. It’s one of those things you don’t think of insuring, it’s not like a car,” she said. “I don’t know how it was found but I hope that everyone – the Facebook groups, the neighborhood groups spreading the word — I’m really hoping that it was our whole community supporting us and speaking out that helped find it.”

In addition, Shore said, they were floored that the community donated $2,000 to a fundraising page in a “matter of hours.”

The team won’t know what materials were lost until they visit the trailer, Shore said, noting that when the trailer was taken, someone had broken the lock off the back of it, so it’s likely materials will be missing and the donations will be needed.

“We won’t know until we get to the trailer what we have lost. I can’t imagine everything is going to be there,” she said. “We are a public high school in St. Paul and we don’t have a ton of resources and the students worked so hard that the community stepping up like this is overwhelming.”

Without the materials contained in the trailer, the team — which has spent up to 30 hours a week for the past six weeks building the robot from scratch — will not be able to participate in the competition, said Marta Shore, business mentor for the team, which is competing in the FIRST Robotics Competition.

The theft on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020 of a trailer belonging to the Highland Park High School robotics team has put at risk the group’s participation in a March 5 competition, and the students are asking for help in the return of its property. (Highland Park High School)

“We’re in the final stages of building and testing the robot,” Shore said. “They check to make sure we have all this,” Shore said. “We have to have most of it in the next two to three weeks and need to replace some things even sooner so they can keep building.”

This is the logo of the Highland Park High School robotics team. It is emblazoned on a team trailer that was stolen early Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020. The team is asking for help in the trailer’s return so the group can participate in a March 5 competition. (Highland Park High School)

Essential items stolen also include first-aid kits and materials to deal with battery spills, including baking soda and gloves.

“Basically, it’s like when you see a NASCAR event and see a pit crew, it’s everything they have in the pit crew,” Shore said. “We lost all of it. All of it is necessary to compete.”

The trailer was parked on a residential street near Cretin-Durham High School in Highland Park, she said. The team believes it was stolen at around 5 a.m.

Despite this setback, the students went to a practice competition Sunday in Eden Prairie, she said.

“They scrambled and took seats out of someone’s car to get the robot there,” Shore said. “That’s how into it these kids are.”

The team has set up a fundraising site to replace the stolen equipment, if needed.