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4 arrested for high school vandalism, theft

February 25, 2010 12:54:55 AM PST
Four people were arrested Thursday morning for allegedly breaking into Westchester High School, vandalizing the campus, and stealing thousands of dollars worth of electronic equipment.The break-in occurred at around 1:30 a.m. at 7400 W. Manchester Ave. A man and three teens -- none of them students at the school -- were caught in the act and taken into custody.

Police believe the suspects used bolt cutters to remove the locks on gates surrounding the high school. They cut off screens covering windows and broke the glass to gain access to five buildings on the campus.

"What we do know is at least 15 classrooms sustained damage. Secured screens from the doors and the windows were cut and removed, windows were broken out of some of the classroom doors," said principal Bruce Mims.

"It was upsetting to everybody, but that's when communities come together," continued Mims.

An alarm was triggered, and school police and Los Angeles Police Department officers arrived while the burglary was still in progress.

Police captured all four suspects as they tried to escape and retrieved most of the stolen items, including 17 laptop computers, from a vehicle they had parked nearby. Police estimated the value of the property at about $14,000.

Several fire extinguishers were also set off, according to school officials.

School officials say by the start of classes Thursday morning, most of the damage had already been repaired.