Recently, there have been multiple burglaries at the school. On the weekend of Homecoming in November, Assistant Principal Cristy Dawson’s office was broken into. At the beginning of December, suspected to be the weekend of December 1 and 2, an unknown culprit stole items from history teacher Pete Bjorklund’s room, P-15, and English teacher Michael Smith’s room, 502. The police were notified of this incident.
The first of the two recent incidents occurred over the weekend of November 3 and 4. A rock was thrown through Dawson’s window and various items such as gift cards and loose change were stolen from the finance office. The party responsible is still unknown.
The administration didn’t have enough evidence to find the culprits despite the investigative tactics that the Los Altos police used. They attempted to look for fingerprints, but fingerprinting “noise” from the heavy student traffic in the office made it impossible to use this method to find who committed the crime.
The real expenses lie in the property damage done to the school. If caught, the perpetrator would face repair charges as well as compensation for what was stolen. Depending on the case and if the person was a student or not, further action could be taken by the police.
The administration has a protocol that it follows when a break-in event such as this one occurs.
“When we find out about it…we call the police, we let the district office know and…try to be as supportive as we can,” Principal Wynne Satterwhite said.
Many years ago, a burglary of the finance office resulted in a great financial loss for the school. Satterwhite was working at the school as an assistant principal at the time.
“It was Homecoming, and the bookkeeper at the time…hadn’t made any deposits since the beginning of school,” Satterwhite said. “She had it [money and checks] in a drawer in her office… so they broke the window, very similar to what they did over there [Dawson’s office break in] and they got away with a lot of money.”
Due to this earlier incident, administration took actions to deter potential break-ins and safeguard against possible losses. The current finance officer Karen McHugh now deposits almost every day to guarantee that there is no large sum on campus on any given day.
“When they told me that this [recent break in] happened, my heart sank, but then I remembered; we’ve changed all that because of this other break-in,” Satterwhite said. “So it was very similar in terms of it was right after Homecoming, window was broken exactly the same way with a rock, a lot of similarities.”
The administration was able to better understand how to deal with break-ins after the burglary in the front office.
The most recent incident involved unknown culprit(s) breaking into Room P-15 and room 502. On Monday, December 3, administration found out about the incident and took action.
“We already called the cops and told them as much information as we can,” Assistant Principal Galen Rosenberg said. “I think it’s good to have some level of coverage in the papers because it’s possible that somebody knows what happened.”
Stolen items include computer equipment, a projector and a television. However, the means of entry are unknown and no evidence was found of a physical break-in.
Occuring a month after the break-in of Dawson’s office, this most recent incident has caused the administration to look into the effects and possible prevention methods. There were no major similarities between the two cases.
“Obviously we hope that it’s a sort of unfortunate coincidence that we’ve had these two break-ins within such proximity to each other,” Rosenberg said. “Often times these things involve the same persons.”
The administration has been discussing the possibility of installing further security to prevent break-ins and burglaries. However, because of the huge expense of a security system, it is still unclear.
“Mountain View has cameras on campus but we don’t,” Rosenberg said. “We have not felt that they would actually have either deterred or caught suspects in most of the incidents that we have had here.”
The school used to have a bell system installed in order to counteract break-ins. It is not clear whether or not this system actually helped prevent crimes.
Despite this, break-ins and vandalism are taken very seriously at the high school.