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District prepares to fight pranks, crime in spring

By SELICIA KENNEDY-ROSS, Staff Writer Stop Cybercrime and Syberterrorism

As graduation and the end of the school year approaches, school districts countywide are gearing up to combat the pranks that come along with senior graduations and the spike in property crimes that occurs with spring.

District officials are increasing security, staggering the hours of school resource officers city police officers who patrol campuses and the surrounding areas and stepping up patrols to deal with the increase in property crimes and to stop the pranks.

Two schools in the Redlands Unified School District were vandalized within the last month. Anti-war graffiti appeared at McKinley Elementary School over spring break and Grove High School was burglarized and computer hardware was stolen in early April, school resource officers said.

Vandals scrawled graffiti with a permanent marker on one door of a school building at McKinley, said Redlands Unified School Resource Officer Geoff Greely. The total damage was about $150, he said.

Vandals broke the back and front windows at Grove High and a computer tower was stolen. Lt. Dan Shefchik, who oversees school resource officers in the Redlands district, said police are mindful of senior pranks around this time of year.

"As the end of the year progresses, seniors are prone to pulling some type of prank,' said Mike Snellings, director of student services for the district. "We will have increased patrols and security. In fact, we'll be staggering our campus security hours and be on the lookout for end-of-the-year high jinks.'

Colton Unified School District officials said they experienced no problems last year after surveillance cameras were installed around school campuses, district spokeswoman Mardi Linane said.

Yucaipa-Calimesa Joint Unified School District officials said they will increase campus security through the end of May and early June in preparation for school pranks.

"We are concerned about vandalism,' Superintendent Ellen Garretson said. "We normally supplement our two school resource officers with extra security, and we hire out to other private security agencies. Our surveillance cameras are always activated.'

Garretson said that, aside from damage done to concrete areas at some schools by weekend skateboarders, there have been no major break-ins or vandalism to campuses within the last five months.

San Bernardino City Unified School District police officials said while some campus property crimes occur around graduation, the most serious rise in property crimes usually occurs during the Christmas season.

Other events, like football games, can spark interschool rivalries that also result in pranks, said Lt. Warren Craig.

"We normally do extra patrols to prevent senior pranks,' he said. "We might have people assigned to various locations after hours or even all night long. For the most part, they pull innocent pranks.

"Other times, it may not be vicious but it costs money to fix.'

Source: www.sbsun.com

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