Greg Hill maneuvered through the cramped Boy Scouts storage trailer on Gothard Street and tried to get inside the mind of a burglar.
"I would have taken the wood," he said Friday afternoon, tapping a stack of tent poles. "I would at least have a campfire."
As Hill, the scoutmaster of Troop 555, surveyed the missing items at the trailer's shady back end, he remarked on what the burglars left behind.
The storage unit, which has resided for years in the parking lot of an office complex, recently had more than a dozen pieces of equipment stolen from it overnight. Judging from the evidence, Hill guessed that it was a fast job.
Two brand-new tents were left behind, as were other items that were heavy or tied down. Hill and quartermaster Mickey Capuano could at least inventory the gear that disappeared: two stoves, two plastic patrol boxes, two E-Z Up shelters, four lanterns and 11 tents.
The cost for that? Around $1,700, not to mention a little trust in strangers.
Troop 555, which comprises 37 boys from Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley, used to keep its 12-foot white trailer tucked at the back of the parking lot on Gothard, but when vandals tried to break into it at least once with a crowbar, the troop leaders moved it closer to the street to give it more visibility.
That didn't deter at least one person, though. On the morning of Nov. 3, according to Hill, a tenant in the complex found the trailer's doors wide open and the lock missing.
Lt. Mitch O'Brien of the Huntington Beach Police Department said detectives have no leads on the case.
The theft was frustrating for another reason: Troop 555 did a fundraiser in the spring to pay for new cooking equipment, and those funds likely will now go to replace the lost items.
In the meantime, Capuano is keeping an eye online for any sign of them.
"I've been checking on Craigslist just in case anything pops up," he said. "I haven't seen anything yet."
The trailer is still in the Gothard lot for the time being, but Capuano and Hill said the troop will move it soon to an RV park nearby. They hope the location off the street and the proximity to residents will make it safer.
Hill informed the Scouts and their parents of the theft at this week's meeting. So far, he said, the adults seem to be taking it harder.
"The boys don't really get it too much," Hill said.
O'Brien asked anyone with information to call (714) 536-5989.