NEW PORT RICHEY — The local chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America doesn't have enough money to get its own building, but it had a trailer. Members parked it at the American Legion on Osceola Drive. Inside, they kept the shirts, key chains and pamphlets they hand out at events. They had it for two years.
Authorities say on Dec. 14, Beau R. Rupp, 20, took it to his house and cut it up to scrap the metal. He was arrested Tuesday and charged with grand theft.
Gary Motteler is the treasurer of the group, which he said has about 95 members. They meet monthly at the American Legion. Motteler, 65, said the trailer was worth $5,000.
"We've lost a lot more than that," he said of the veterans. "But you just go with the times. The economy is bad, and people need money. They will do anything for it."
Rupp, of 10961 Echo Loop in New Port Richey, is being held without bail at the Pasco jail. He is also charged with driving with a suspended or revoked license and violating his felony probation. His three-year probation sentence for grand theft began in June, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.
Rupp was pulled over in a truck that was towing the hacked up stolen trailer, a report states.
Motteler said he hopes to get the trailer replaced. It's upsetting, but he has perspective.
"Those are just material things," he said.
Erin Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6229.