Vandals strike again
RIFLE – A rash of break-ins and vandalism in Rifle continued late Sunday or early Monday when vandals struck Rifle High School and the Garfield School District Re-2 Transportation Department building, causing about $10,000 in damage. “We’ve been a target all summer long,” said Re-2 spokeswoman Theresa Hamilton. “This is our eighth break-in or vandalism attempt.”Sometime between 8 p.m. Sunday and 6 a.m. Monday, somebody broke into RHS and spray painted purple the RHS bear mascot in the main office, vandalized class photos and the DECA store, discharged two fire extinguishers on a bank of computers in the school computer lab and broke up to 20 windows. Thirty percent of the school’s classrooms were entered, Hamilton said. The vandals also hit the district transportation building, destroying a copy machine, a vending machine and a computer monitor. They also decorated the building with graffiti, she said. RHS Principal Todd Ellis called the break-in the summer’s worst, and suggested the culprits may be “some kids.”
Ellis said the vandals spray painted racist graffiti in the school, while other graffiti included “negative things about teachers, administrators, and the school.”Rifle Police confirmed Monday’s break-ins but declined to comment further. The break-ins and vandalism follow a chain of recent burglaries in Rifle that may be related, Rifle Police Chief Daryl Meisner said last week.The burglaries began once schools went on summer vacation, he said.”My guess is, they’ll stop as soon as school is back in session,” he said. Since late May, vandals have hit each school in Rifle, several churches and two restaurants. Meisner said that police had no suspects last week.
RHS was previously hit on May 24, when a janitor spotted several intruders removing ceiling tiles. The intruders immediately fled and were never found. Rifle High, Rifle Middle and Wamsley Elementary schools were vandalized on or around June 3, when school officials found broken windows and air conditioning vents on the campuses, according to police reports. RHS officials notified police June 7 about a series of thefts from the school, which at the time included the disappearance of a set of the school’s master keys. Somebody egged Highland Elementary School on June 29 after writing on the school’s windows with wax. School officials estimate that about $25,000 in damage from vandalism has been done this summer districtwide, Hamilton said. Though vandalism has occurred in previous years, this summer’s vandalism is bad enough, she said, for the district to begin talking about beefed-up security at its schools.
Ellis said the vandalism and graffiti at RHS will likely be repaired or removed by the start of school. “It’s just really been an attack on this community and the history of this community, too,” said Ellis, referring to damage done to school and class photos. Hamilton said that anyone who knows anything about the incidents should call Rifle Police at (970) 625-2271.Contact Bobby Magill: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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