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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

3 Teen Boys Arrested Over Graffiti Found at School

February 18, 2001|HOLLY J. WOLCOTT | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

THOUSAND OAKS — Three teenagers have been arrested on suspicion of spray-painting swastikas, other Nazi-related statements and racial slurs on walls at Redwood Intermediate School earlier this month, authorities said Saturday.

The boys were taken into custody Friday night at The Oaks mall when Ventura County sheriff's deputies saw them smoking cigarettes, which is illegal for people under 18, authorities said.

Deputies took the boys to the sheriff's station, where they were questioned about the school vandalism, said Senior Deputy Dan Hawes.

Two boys, 15 and 14, from Thousand Oaks were cited for felony vandalism and misdemeanor tobacco possession and released to their parents, authorities said.

A 15-year-old boy from Moorpark was booked into Ventura County juvenile hall on suspicion of felony vandalism, misdemeanor tobacco possession and an unrelated robbery, authorities said.

All three attend area high schools, but authorities declined to release their names.

"It was bad," Hawes said. "For the amount of graffiti that was done there and the type it was, I would categorize it as one of the worst acts of graffiti vandalism here in awhile."

The teens were not cited for a hate crime, because the vandalism did not target a particular person or religious or ethnic institution, Hawes said.

After receiving a report Feb. 4 that the school on Gainsborough Road had been heavily vandalized, a sheriff's volunteer found so-called "white power" slogans and other white supremacist graffiti covering walls throughout a quad area, on the main office and all over light poles and trash cans, Hawes said.

The graffiti included profanity and slurs against certain gangs and racial groups.

Because the graffiti was discovered on a Sunday, authorities took a report and shot several photographs. School officials then painted over the graffiti before students returned for classes the following day.

Damage to the school was estimated at more than $3,000, authorities said.

Detectives spent two weeks investigating the case, canvassing homes near the school and interviewing residents, Hawes said. Surveillance teams gathered evidence against the teens.

Although the boys allegedly profess white power beliefs, none are gang members, Hawes said.

"We have kids that dress the part and act the part, but no documented gang members as such," Hawes said.

This isn't the first time Redwood Intermediate has been vandalized.

In March 1998, deputies arrested five teenagers from Thousand Oaks and one from Northridge on suspicion of scrawling graffiti on more than a dozen buildings in and around Thousand Oaks, including Redwood Intermediate, Westlake Elementary School and a former Thousand Oaks city hall.

White power advocates also defaced two temples in Thousand Oaks with racist slogans in 1990.

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