Thieves steal St. Paul high school robotics team's trailer

Updated: 7:05 p.m.

A trailer that contained equipment for a Twin Cities high school robotics team has been recovered after it was stolen early Sunday.

The trailer belongs to the St. Paul Highland Park team. Dubbed the Automatons, they spent the first six weeks of the year building a robot from scratch. The robot was not in the trailer when it was stolen.

The trailer was taken to an impound lot Sunday afternoon, and it was unclear who masterminded the theft. Later in the day, team officials reported online that most items of value were missing from the trailer — batteries, motors, wiring and other items.

The theft comes just weeks before a major regional competition.

Senior Greta Shore said she was “completely baffled” when she heard about it. As the team's business team’s captain leading marketing and fundraising efforts, she started an online campaign to buy replacement batteries, tools and parts.

The campaign raised $2,500 in “a matter of hours,” said Marta Shore, Greta's mother and business mentor for the team.

“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,” Marta Shore said.

Meanwhile, the team forged ahead with plans to take part in a practice event in Eden Prairie on Sunday. Coach Doug Kmoch said other teams rallied to help.

"Robotics is just this incredible community," he said. "We walked in and we needed a handful of things to get going, and so we just asked other teams. And they gladly gave us the nuts and bolts that we needed. We needed some zip ties to hold some stuff down temporarily, and you just ask and they have it — and say, 'What else do you need?'"

The team's first full competition will begin March 4 in Duluth.

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