Bus break-in ends Seattle Seahawks cheerleader tour of Europe military bases
NAPLES, Italy — When in Rome ... don’t leave your tour bus unguarded.
Cheerleaders for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks were forced to cut short their tour of U.S. military bases across Europe last week after someone broke into their tour bus parked near Rome’s Coliseum and stole their uniforms and equipment .
The Sea Gals cheerleading squad returned to Seattle over the weekend despite performing only two of their eight scheduled shows through Armed Forces Entertainment, the Defense Department agency that brings live acts to overseas bases. The canceled dates included Vincenza, Italy; Edelweiss, Germany; and Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo.
“We called it just a very unfortunate event,” said Joe Mennit, the Armed Forces Entertainment coordinator for the Mediterranean region.
The squad was traveling to Camp Darby, near Pisa, on Thursday morning after shows in Sicily and Naples when it stopped in Rome, Mennit said. The bus driver planned to remain with the vehicle, in a covered parking lot near the Coliseum metro stop, but was asked to help interpret for the cheerleaders as they toured the area.
“They coaxed him into leaving, and he locked (the bus),” Mennit said. “They just went for a short walk so they could see the Coliseum.”
They returned to find the back tailgate broken and their belongings gone.
The cheerleaders hoped to continue the trip, Mennit said, and made plans for one of the Seahawks’ mascots to meet them with new uniforms. Scheduling new flights proved impossible, however, and the squad returned home.
The cheerleaders hope to return and finish the tour in late summer or September, Mennit said. He said the bus company will reimburse Armed Forces Entertainment the cost of the rental and driver.
Mennit had no hard feelings toward the Sea Gals squad, he said.
“They were heroes as far as I’m concerned, because they wanted to keep it going, for the troops,” he said.