Almost $20,000 in ballet costumes and props are missing from the Lakeville City Ballet, and ballet officials and police said Sunday that they're stumped about who might have taken the items and why.

"There's no logical explanation," said Rick Vogt, chairman of the board of the Lakeville troupe, which began operations in 2003. "We are asking ourselves, 'Why would anybody do this?' We can't come up with any motive, at least not one that makes any sense."

Lakeville police investigators began looking into the theft Thursday night, when it was discovered, Vogt said.

Among the items taken were a large sleigh and dozens of costumes for the ballet company's annual production of "The Nutcracker," Vogt said.

"It's become a tradition in Lakeville," he said. "Each year it gets bigger and bigger."

The items were stored in a secure locker at a commercial storage center. Some of them, including a large throne, were taken out of storage for use in a float the company entered in a parade July 11.

The theft was discovered Thursday, when Vogt and others went to the storage facility to return the items.

Vogt said there appeared to be no sign of forced entry. Access to the storage facility is controlled by a coded keypad. Additionally, there is a lock on the storage room used by the company. He said the lock was intact and there was no vandalism or other signs of destruction.

"We opened the door and there were all these empty racks," Vogt said.

He said the costumes and props are used by more than 100 performers in the "Nutcracker" production put on each Thanksgiving weekend. Money raised at the performances is used to pay for the production, as well as for other company programs, such as scholarships and dance demonstrations around town.

Other city ballet companies and dance schools in the Twin Cities metro area have offered to hold fundraisers to help out, or to lend costumes and props to Lakeville, Vogt said.

Rehearsals start in the fall, and dress rehearsals don't start until October, so Vogt said the company has a couple of months to replace the items.

"It's a setback," he said. "The ideal scenario would be for us to get the things back. But we'll be ready for the performance."

Heron Marquez Estrada • 612-673-4280