Cameras Down during Vandals' Attack on School

Felony-level vandalism unrecorded by surveillance system due to power outage


Aug. 16--Saturday night was warm and balmy -- perfect, it seemed, for vandalism.

On Saturday, three Clark County schools were hit by vandals, though police officials don't believe the incidents were related.

Green Mountain School, in remote north county, had a window broken. The vandals also rearranged letters to leave a vulgar message on the reader board.

"It was weird," Superintendent Mike Grubbs said. "They took all the letters down and put them in a neat pile. I appreciated it, but not their language."

Sifton Elementary, in the Evergreen school district, also had a window broken.

The worst damage was to Columbia River High School in Hazel Dell. Mick Hoffman, head of Vancouver Public Schools security, said repairs there will cost thousands of dollars.

The vandals attached a chain to the high school entrance and yanked the door open with a car or truck, Clark County Sheriff's Sgt. Tim Bieber said.

They left fecal matter at the door. Once inside, they broke into the weight room and threw dumbbells off the balcony, where the weight room is. Parts of the gym floor have to be replaced.

The vandals also threw a dumbbell into a vending machine and urinated on the gym floor.

Two types usually vandalize schools, Bieber said: Bored students and students from rival high schools.

But the incident at Columbia River, he said, isn't a prank.

"We're looking at felony-level crime versus school crime," Bieber said. "We're hoping that when school starts, the kids will start talking. We solve a lot of crimes that way."

Normally, Vancouver school district cameras would have caught the culprits. But a brief power outage took the cameras offline.

But vandals, take note: On Wednesday morning, Hoffman had discerned the identity of vandals at Lincoln and Franklin elementary schools from early August. And he figured out who was breaking bottles at Kiggins Bowl, the stadium behind Discovery Middle School.

Copyright (c) 2007, The Columbian, Vancouver, Wash. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.