Despite New CCTV System, California High School Yet Again Struck by Vandals

Vandals struck Clayton Valley High School over the holiday weekend, cutting down and removing a $2,000 baseball batting cage net less than two weeks after the school's new security cameras were switched on.

The batting cages were fine on Christmas Eve, when the Clayton Valley baseball team held its traditional alumni game. But when coach Bob Ralston returned Monday morning to set up the school's annual holiday baseball camp, the heavy net was gone.

"I couldn't believe it," Ralston said. "I walked out and we were missing one whole cage. It was very disheartening. It's frustrating when you try to fund-raise and do nice things and people destroy things."

The school's sports boosters and community groups had collected money to buy and install surveillance cameras on the Concord campus after vandals repeatedly attacked the school's sports facilities. Clayton Valley's snack shack was looted, a baseball cage was cut and a section of the school's new football field turf was removed last year.

In the latter case, a tip led the Concord police to the vandal, a young woman, said athletic director Pat Middendorf. The culprit pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, paid restitution, spent 30 days in jail and served 100 hours of community service.

Clayton Valley's cameras were switched on at the school's entrance Dec. 16. Middendorf said school officials would begin reviewing the tapes this week.

The second set of cameras -- which would have covered the athletic fields -- is scheduled for installation early next month. The booster club has also been trying to install a 12-foot-tall security fence around the stadium perimeter and another fence around the batting cages, but Middendorf said the club ran into red tape.

"We've been really fortunate to have people in our community donate nice things and resources to our school," said Ralston. "We want to protect that. It's the people in our community's money, gosh darn it."

Ralston said the miscreants would have had to use ladders to unclip the 15-foot-tall nets from the cage, and that the nets were too heavy for one person to handle.


Knight Ridder content Copyright 2005 provided via The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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