Hockey was becoming big part of 11-year-old Brandon Carinha's life until thieves made off with his gear this past weekend. 

John Carinha says he was devastated to find the family car broken into Saturday night, and son Brandon's entire hockey bag including skates, shin and elbow pads, and team jersey with name bar, stolen. It was Brandon's first hockey equipment, for a team made up entirely of children with autism.

"That was his first jersey with his own crest across the back, his first pair of skates," John Carinha told CBC News.

Brandon Carinha

Brandon Carinha plays for the Surrey Stingrays, and first-year team of autistic players. (John Carinha)

"Just disappointed," said Brandon shyly. "Always disappointed. A little bit angry."

John Carinha says the theft has also made his son sad, even tearful at times.

'The small stuff is pretty big'

It sounds trivial but if you understand autism you understand what gets invested in their lives," said John Carinha. "That small stuff is pretty big. Sure it can be replaced but I know it's not his original stuff, it's not his first. And that's when I get really bent out of shape about it."

John Carinha estimates the value of the gear to be about $700.

Surrey Stingrays forward

Brandon, who just learned to skate, plays forward for the Surrey Stingrays, a first-year team of children with autism sponsored by the Canucks Autism network. 

"It is so upsetting for us to hear about this awful situation," said Lindsay Petrie of the Canucks Autism Network. "We know how much it means to these incredible kids to be a part of a hockey team and to have their own personalized jersey. To think that someone would do such a thing is disheartening."

The Stingrays are in the midst of preparing to to play other special needs teams in a big tournament in early April.

stolen hockey gear

Some of Brandon gear was found discarded at the side of the road. (John Carinha)

A few items, including Brandon's helmet and socks, were later found abandoned at the side of the road.

John Carinha says it's the second break-in in a short time for his family. On Christmas his childrens' bikes — including Brandon's — and ATV/Quad were stolen out of their garage. 

With files from Julianne Hazlewood