String of Burglaries at Valley Schools

July 11, 2008 2:06:56 PM PDT
There's been a rash of break-ins at several valley schools in the last couple of months. Fresno police are still looking for at least five suspects involved in eight different cases. Many of those suspects were there to steal others were just looking to destroy.The most recent break-in happened Wednesday night at McLane High School. Police say Laura Vasquez and Ruben Morales were trying to steal speakers and computers. The pair was arrested but several other suspects are still on the loose.

Sgt. Dan Edwards, Fresno Police Dept.: "Sounds like it was a planned operation with the van being there and the number of subjects that were involved."

Sgt. Edwards with the Fresno Police Department says school break-ins happen year round, but there's often a spike in summer months.

"The warmer weather, kids are out on the campuses and that just attracts more different types of crimes."

On May fourth at Hidalgo Elementary an alarm alerted police of a break-in ? two teens were caught trying to flee the scene.

At Robinson Elementary a week later four teenagers were arrested after they tripped an alarm when they broke a cafeteria window.

On June 2nd two kids broke into Ericson Elementary to steal a lizard and school supplies.

Four separate fires have been set at Bullard High School in the past few weeks causing thousands of dollars in damages.

But the most destructive was this break-in at Avenal Elementary. Police say five students ages 10-12 caused more than a quarter of a million dollars in damages destroying equipment and furniture in almost every classroom.

Sgt. Edwards says even though districts like Fresno Unified have high-tech security systems that notify police quickly of intruders. Schools are still often seen as easy targets for vandals and burglars.

"They know that nobody is going to be around, the way most schools are set up, it's difficult to see who's on campus from the streets."

But burglars beware Sgt. Edwards says patrol officers monitor school campuses very closely during their beats, especially during the summer.
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