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HVAC units stolen from historic Cedar Grove Ruritan Club, sheriff offering $1500 award

The Cedar Grove Ruritan Club recently had two new, yet-to-be-installed HVAC units stolen. The club had been saving up for three years to buy the units. Photo courtesy of Buck Curtis.

Two new, yet-to-be-installed HVAC units have been stolen from the Cedar Grove Ruritan Club.

The Cedar Grove Ruritan Club, a group that serves Orange County through fundraiser projects to raise money for scholarships and community service, has been saving up the necessary $15,000 for around three years for these units. 

Buck Curtis, a club member and former president, said the organization hoped to completely air-condition the facility's gym when the two HVAC units they ordered were stolen. 

“When something like this happens, it’s pretty discouraging," Curtis said. 

The theft occurred on March 22 around 2 a.m. The club reported leaving the cardboard-covered units right up next to the back of the gym. Curtis said from the road, no person would have been able to see them. To steal the units, Curtis said the suspects would have driven all the way around the back of the building, picked up the units and loaded them into their truck. Curtis said the units were large enough to require at least two people to move them. 

Orange County Sheriff's Office Investigator Jason Nazworth said in a statement over email that on the morning after the theft, when a Cedar Grove staff member arrived to unlock the gate, he noticed the two units missing. A staff member returning to retrieve his forgotten tools reported seeing the units the night before, he said.

The truck used in the theft was an older, square-bodied pickup truck, according to surveillance photos and video referenced in a press release from the Orange County Sheriff's Office. There were at least two people in the truck, which had an inoperable passenger side low beam headlight.

The Ruritan Club is a historic part of the Orange County community that helps raise money for a variety of causes, like a $1,000 per year scholarship to a graduating senior in the county. 

“The majority of our proceeds go back into the community one way or another to try to help," Curtis said. 

The club also buys Christmas presents for kids in need and holds community events, like breakfast fundraisers, golf tournaments and horse shows. The club hosts a $10,000 raffle, where it raises money for a toy drive. Curtis said in the Ruritan Club, community comes first — the only money not spent on the community is the money used for the upkeep and maintenance of the club facilities. 

Nazworth said there are no current suspects for the larceny, but the Orange County Sheriff's Office is chasing a few leads.

Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood is offering a reward of $1,500 for any information that may lead to the arrest and conviction of the individuals responsible.

“The historic Ruritan building has served as the lifeblood of the Cedar Grove community for many years, in many ways," Blackwood said in the press release. "Not only is this a criminal offense harming the Ruritans, but it is also a slap in the face to the people who value this facility and what it means to this community."


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