At around noon on Saturday, Lora in our Verification Center received a door alarm from the boys’ locker room at an elementary school in Hillsboro, OR. She only heard HVAC on the audio and dispatched a patrol agency. The responding agent made contact with a family spending time outdoors at the school that reported seeing four teenagers onsite. The smell of paint fumes was noticeable from outside. The agent found cleaning supplies, spray paint cans and graffiti in the area, as well as a fire axe lying in the grass. The agent called Hillsboro PD and had them check the building with him. Police were able to locate the teens nearby with the help of the witnesses. All four were arrested and a responder from the district secured the building.
Preventing vandalism at schools has many benefits: custodial time doesn’t need to be spent cleaning up vandalism, students feel safer and more focused on academics, and money spent on repairs and replacements is saved. School vandalism also opens the doors to other crimes, such as burglary. While most school districts have contracts with patrol services, one guard can’t be in more than one place at a time. Observant neighbors like the family at the school over the weekend can certainly help, but more often than not, intrusions and vandalism at schools goes unnoticed by human eyes. School alarm systems that protect the entire school campus, not just the perimeter, can be useful tools in catching vandalism in the act. Many schools turn to surveillance, but that would only be of use after someone noticed the graffiti and the suspects would be long gone. Verified intrusion goes a long ways toward preventing vandalism at schools.