Teens use tractor to break into school district building, police say

FRESNO, California (KFSN) -- Crews are making repairs after a late-night break-in where three teenagers stole a nearby tractor to smash a wall at Central Unified School District.

"These three juveniles went in, took some sodas, took some radios that they were found in possession of. Those were recovered," said Sgt. Mark Hudson, Fresno Police Department.

The break-in happened at around 10:30 p.m. Sunday night. The three boys, between the ages of 15 and 17, had run away from a group home just a few blocks away.

The tractor was parked at neighboring Teague Elementary School where work is being done to install new turf on the playground.

"They were AWOL, or away without leave, from a group home located at 5610 West Donner. They went to that location, they found the piece of equipment there on school grounds, they were able to start it," said Hudson.

The repairs are costing Central Unified more than $4,000. The crime comes just a few months after the district office was first victim to a major copper wire theft that ultimately shut down the district's email and phone systems. That incident cost the district tens of thousands of dollars.

"It's more or less something that takes district staff time and resources we really don't need to be spending, but we will do what we have to do to make sure we're up and running and conducting business," said Mark Sutton, Superintendent.

Central Unified does have an alarm system and security cameras. The district's silent alarm is what tipped off their security team and Fresno Police-- ultimately helping them catch the suspects.

Sutton said the office that was damaged is frequently used during the summer.

"The wall is part of where all our parents are coming with all their transfers and attendance area concerns, so we're all busy over here right now."

The three teens were booked into Fresno County Juvenile Hall. They face charges for burglary and felony vandalism.
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