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VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS | WEST COUNTY / OXNARD

La Colonia Computer Lab Vandalized

September 04, 1998|NICK GREEN

The staff of a La Colonia nonprofit group that brings high-technology to the working-class neighborhood in Oxnard arrived at work Thursday morning and found thieves had stolen two computers and vandalized three others worth $12,000.

Donated only last year by Apple, the five Macintosh computers comprised the entire lab set aside for teenagers at the community computer access center, said an upset Luann Rocha, executive director of El Centrito de la Colonia.

"They've ruined it," she said of the Cooper Road lab. "[Kids] can't do their homework, they can't go on the Internet. They can't write their reports. They can't use their CD-ROMs."

The lab is open after school, 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays, she said.

The thieves pried open "lock-down plates" that secured three of the computers, cut alarm wires and Internet phone connections, and stole keyboards and mouse controllers from the other two Macs, rendering them inoperable, she said.

Senior Officer Bob Camarillo, who is in charge of the Oxnard Police Department's La Colonia storefront operation, said police are aggressively pursuing leads in the case.

"It's tough to deal with when you get invaded," he said. "They have a very productive computer program and a tutoring program. It's going to set them back for a little while."

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