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Vandals Wreak Havoc at School Office

Crime: In notably bad case, culprits cause $35,000 in damage at Tierra Linda Elementary. A reward is offered for information.

September 30, 1996|JASON TERADA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

CAMARILLO — Vandals broke into Tierra Linda Elementary School in Mission Oaks over the weekend, smashing office equipment and causing an estimated $35,000 in damage, authorities and school officials said.

The vandals broke into the 3-year-old school's administration building at 1201 Woodcreek Road sometime between Saturday evening and 8:15 a.m. Sunday, police said.

Entering the building through a back door after shattering a window, the attackers threw computers and other equipment onto the floor and knocked over a copy machine and refrigerator in an office area shared by secretaries and a school nurse, Tierra Linda Principal Dianne Quinby-Anders said.

A guitar was smashed to pieces. A large bottle of chocolate syrup, which was being stored in the refrigerator, and the powdered contents of several dry-chemical fire extinguishers were sprayed all over the room and into the broken equipment.

The vandalized office was discovered Sunday morning by a teacher who had come in to work over the weekend.

"The place was just a shambles," Quinby-Anders said. "Everything was on the floor. . . . This was a very substantial case of vandalism--felony level."

Quinby-Anders said a reward is being offered by the school for any information leading to an arrest.

Ventura County sheriff's officials said the punishment for an adult convicted of felony vandalism is a fine from $5,000 to $50,000 and a year in state prison. The parents of juveniles convicted of felony vandalism could be held responsible for damage caused by their children. Shirley Carpenter, superintendent of the Pleasant Valley School District, said the damage was the worst she had seen during 15 years in Camarillo schools.

"We've had other incidents of vandalism, but nothing to this extent," Carpenter said.

Police took fingerprints at the scene but have no firm leads on suspects.

"We're assuming it's kids in the area," Carpenter said.

The culprits had to be "in their mid-teens to early 20s" because they were strong enough to throw a heavy fire extinguisher onto the building's roof and tip over heavy furniture and equipment.

The incident may be the worst of its kind, Carpenter said, but it is not the first in the area.

"Vandalism in eastern Camarillo at both Tierra Linda and Las Colinas is increasing," Carpenter said.

Carpenter added that she and Quinby-Anders plan to ask nearby residents to be on guard for suspicious activity at the schools and to contact police if they notice anything amiss.

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