"Kid Beat" by KM Soehnlean

Gotham Girl Guides Regroup After Cookie Theft Setback

Some memories of childhood never fade. Alas, these memories that burn themselves into our brains and never let go are often the bad ones. They are the little disasters, the small tragedies, and the petty humiliations that adults can shake off easily. But when bad things happen to young people, the memories are not so easily sloughed off.

And so it is with the Gotham Girl Guides. Young, pretty, and full of that kind of energy that only the very young have, these girls don't usually let anything get them down. But the day the cookie thieves struck is the day they just can't let go of.

"Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night," said bright-eyed 12-year-old Samantha Byrns. "It's so horrible, I think the cookie thieves are after me, chasing me, stealing our cookies."

The incident occurred on a normal day for the Guides. The group, founded in 1912, has raised money ever since its birth by selling cookies. Last year, the group made over $23,000 selling their cookies at schools, festivals, conventions, and door-to-door. But in all their time selling the baked sweets, they never ran into a group of people so heartless as to steal cookies out of the hands of girls.

"We were all excited to sell cookies on a popular convention weekend," said group leader Sarah Schwimmer, 39. "But almost from the beginning, it was a disaster."

The girls tell stories of marauding bands of ruthless toughs, going from guide to guide and stealing cookies. Nothing stopped them - not the surveillance cameras, not the pleas of mercy from head guide Schwimmer, not even the tears of little girls.

"We came to the convention with smiles and laughs," said Schwimmer. "The girls left heartbroken and scared."

Schwimmer estimates that the thefts cost the group over $3,000. She filed a police report with the GPD, but said officials did almost nothing to investigate the crime. Schwimmer wonders if the criminals were connected to the out-of-control gangs that are causing havoc in Gotham.

"They seemed to have no fear, no morals. What kind of people is Gotham home to these days?" said Schwimmer.

The girls have spent every minute since the thefts attempting to make that money back. They've run bake sales, organized car washes, and worn out shoes by walking hours after school, going door-to-door and hoping to find the good people of Gotham and not the monsters that stole their cookies.

Last week, the Guides finally did it. They earned back all the money they lost that terrible day. And so Schwimmer organized a little celebration. Just the girls, their parents, and some cupcakes and milk. It wasn't big, but it was enough.

"The girls loved it," said Schwimmer. "Now, finally, they can look ahead to the future, and not back to that horrible day that broke all of our hearts."

But for some of the girls, isn't not so easy to look ahead. Eleven-year-old Emma Riley says she can never look at people the same again.

"I used to trust people," Emma said. "But now, after the thefts, I look at everyone like they could be a criminal. It's sad."

Emma won't be returning to the Girl Guides next year. Some memories are just too painful.