‘Rhino’ Stolen from Ripon Athletic Foundation

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A utility vehicle many say is an important tool for the community’s athletic programs, was driven off by thieves last week.

The vehicle isn't in the best condition, its doors and tailgate are missing but that didn't stop thieves from breaking onto school grounds and driving away with it.

“We relied on it so heavily for everything we did. I mean, for maintenance to just getting around including getting around campus,”  Stephanie Hobbs, the President of the Ripon Community Athletic Foundation, told FOX40 on Monday.

Ripon's Community Athletic Foundation made the discovery on Friday. Someone had cut a hole in the fence, broke the lock on the storage, and drove away with the utility vehicle. Hobbs said cutting this fence was just one brazen step in this crime.

"The battery was dead, totally dead on the Rhino, so they had to have brought jumper cables and or a trailer to get it out of the stadium,” Hobbs explained.

Ripon Police officers are now on the case.

“We’re pretty sure that if somebody knows something about it they’ll give us a call,” Lt. Steve Merchant, a spokesperson with the Ripon Police Department said.

Officers added, a used vehicle like the "Rhino" is worth $4,000 to $5,000. But for the community of Ripon, its price tag far exceeded a monetary value.

"We need that Rhino to get around and continue to maintain the stadium and to just, to keep things rolling,” Hobbs told us.

All investigators can do now is pore over surveillance footage, which may have captured the thieves in action. There has been an outpouring of support from those who feel passionately about the missing Rhino.

Some have even pledged to donate money for a new vehicle.

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