Burglaries cost campus thousands


Cindy Pantoja and Daniel Hernandez / The Advocate

Over the winter break, the level of criminal activity increased on campus as between Dec. 20 and Jan. 5 four separate burglaries were reported.

By Luis Lopez, Advocate Staff

Over the winter break, the level of criminal activity increased on campus as between Dec. 20 and Jan. 5 four separate burglaries were reported.

The series of thefts targeted the Art Building, Music Building, Automotive Technology Building and custodial area in the Applied Arts Building.

Although the alarms deterred the burglars once they were in the act, no arrests have been made in the investigation.

Police Services Lt. Thomas Holt said all the burglaries had one thing in common: “The only consistent pattern was the break-ins occurred when the school was closed, or there was limited staffing on site.”

While Police Services still does not know exactly how the burglars got in, they have conducted an investigation, which has led to some theories.

Fin and media arts department Chairperson Anthony Gordon had his office broken into when offenders targeted the Art Building between Dec. 19 and 22.

Gordon said, “Not only was my door forced open so the lock was messed up, but there were a lot of ceiling panels out of place ­—one right above my computer and one in each of the men’s and women’s bathrooms. There were also ceiling panels moved in the hallways.”

Gordon said throughout the building there were splinters everywhere from the burglars trying to pry open wooden doors.

The professor theorizes the burglars’ entrance into the building was not a forced entry.

“I believe because we have a lot of people coming in and out of the building, the burglars may have been hiding in the ceiling panels and waited for the custodians to lock up before dropping back down,” he said.

In the Art Building, thieves got away with three audio/video projectors, two computer towers and a printer adding up to about $5,500 in losses.

The automotive department had a window in one of its trailers broken between Dec. 20 and 21, but nothing was taken.

However, the main automotive building was burglarized Dec. 24.

Automotive instructor Lucille Beatty said the burglary was a forced entry.

“The alarm went off and scared the burglars away, but they did cut a panel on a roll up door and had enough time to take one projector,” Beatty said.

She is thankful for the alarms because they scared the burglars before they could take more.

“The alarms obviously scared them off — they ended up leaving their tools and only taking one thing. I am thankful for preventive services like that and think it helped a great deal,” she said.

Lt. Holt said the custodial areas of the AA Building and the Music Building were also targeted.

“The doors were pried open in the custodial area between Dec. 19 and Jan. 2 and a toolbox was taken valued at $1,192,” he said.

The Music Building was burglarized between Jan. 3 and 5 with computers being stolen valued at $660. The culprits gained entry by unknown means.

Total college losses added up to almost $10,000.

The campus burglaries all took advantage of moments when there is a limited authoritative presence on campus.

Holt said although there are various investigations, no arrests have been made. Police Services worked special missions in an attempt to find criminal activity and look for witnesses, however, no leads or evidence to follow up on has been discovered.

These were not all necessarily break-ins or forced entry robberies, but they did take advantage of open buildings and lack of security, he said.