BLAIRSVILLE (KDKA) — A Blairsville man is charged with stealing money from a youth hockey tournament.

Police say 24-year-old Michael Brooks went to Center Ice Arena in Salem around 8 p.m. Monday pretending to watch the Franklin Regional Hockey Club Youth Tournament.

A short time later, he was spotted eyeing a cashier who was counting money.

Police say Brooks grabbed $200 from the cashier’s hand and ran out of the arena.

Several witnesses followed him and got a license plate number.

He was arrested in Vandergrift later that night.

Brooks is facing robbery and related charges.

He is free on $10,000 unsecured bond as he awaits his preliminary hearing.

The Franklin Regional Hockey Club includes varsity, junior varsity, freshmen and developmental teams.

“Even though they wear the school’s name, there is little to no funding provided by the school for hockey, so the parents are responsible for the associated costs, which can be significant,” said parent John Newell, who is also the organization’s vice president. “Our annual tournament helps to defray the cost of participation for our whole club and it is astounding that someone would target us in a place where everyone feels safe.”

Police say there has been a spike this year in the number of people stealing from youth sports organizations.

They will be investigating whether Brooks may be involved in any other cases.

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