Students' award-winning robot stolen

Students' award-winning robot stolen »Play Video
MOUNTLAKE TERRACE, Wash. -- It took a team of 100 people some 1,500 hours of work to build, and now it's gone.

An award-winning robot built by a team of students and mentors at Mountlake Terrace High School has been stolen.

Local high school teams build a robot every year as part of the FIRST Robotics program. The competition is fierce.

A team of about 75 students and 25 adult mentors builds a robot for this annual competition.

Mountlake Terrace's Chilli earned second place this year. But Chilli is now gone, stolen from a parking lot.

"We worked really hard on it and we need it, we should have it back," said sophomore Michelle Stone.

Teacher Craig Devine said they had an accident with the van while returning from a strategy meeting with Chilli two weeks ago.

They had to leave the van at Les Schwab in Kirkland for repairs.

The thieves got away with the 4-foot tall robot chassis, but didn't get its manipulating arm or its controller.

"It can't function as is, so they take the robot and leave the van, it doesn't make much sense," said teacher Craig Devine.

So why take it?

"It's got all kinds of little modules and things, but at the same time it's not R2D2 it's not this kind of thing that's cute," said Devine.

Do the thieves plan to sell the metal for scrap? Are they interested in robotics?

Whatever the reason, these students know that they put in 1,500 hours on it and they want it back.

"You learn so much stuff from the ground up. And it leads you to something so big, you know," said senior Abdur Rehman.

"You know one of the things that first robotics really professes is this idea of gracious professionalism," Devine said.

That gracious professional is already being seen. A number of teams, companies and professionals from across the Seattle area and from across the entire country have already been rallying via an online forum, offering any help they can give this team to help it get back on its feet.

Whether or not they get it back, the students know that they have to move forward. They have to start thinking about the next competition, which starts in January.

Anyone with information on Chilli's whereabouts is urged to call Kirkland police.