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Break in at Campus Center

By Griffin O'Rourke, Staff Writer

Jennifer Read arrived at Campus Center early in the morning on Saturday, April 29, to find the offices on the second floor broken into and an intruder on the outdoor patio.

“I came out front in the main hallway and I heard a door shut,” Read said. “Then I walked back around, and when I got into the hallway, I glanced out to the patio and I saw a person walking. So I opened the door and yelled ‘Hey!’ and they took off.”

At 8:30 a.m. on April 29, Read, chairperson of the theater department, arrived at Campus Center before any coworkers or student performers to help set up equipment for Valley College’s upcoming performance, “Middletown.” But she discovered busted-open doors and a mysterious intruder on the building’s second floor.

Read first called the campus sheriffs after noticing the broken doors, but called them again after the suspect took off.

“Deputies arrived there within a minute or two of the call, but the suspect was already gone,” said Deputy Anthony Coleman of the campus sheriff's department. “Officers and national service officers searched the campus but couldn’t find him.”

The intruder, as described by Read, is a 5-foot-7 inch tall Latino male who donned a black coat, dark jeans, black cap and a large backpack. He wielded a pair of hammers to break off the doorknobs of the office doors. One hammer was left shattered on the floor alongside an intact one. A few items were reported missing from the office spaces but most of what he grabbed was left behind.

“He broke into the hallway door and the office suite which has two entry doors that he annihilated a doorknob to get in,” Read said. “And then he broke into four offices. [He was] really being angry at one where he just hammered the doorknob completely off.”

Of the four offices broken into, one had a heavy scent of body odor suggesting the intruder might have been staying there for some time, according to sheriffs.

Campus Center has been riddled with issues in the past, but burglaries and other criminal acts have been a big part of its history, including another break-in by a vandal in December 2021. Another burglary occurred in February 2022 when a burglar stole copper piping from the Campus Center’s Media Arts department.

“Late January, February, somebody came in and ripped off all the clocks in the hallways upstairs and downstairs. Frequently, we've come upstairs into the office suite and found homeless [people] sleeping,” the chairperson said.

Concerns about campus safety have been growing alongside reports of criminal activity. At the beginning of this semester, there was graffiti vandalism in the campus’ parking structure followed by two suspects who flashed gang signs and a gun at a student. A mysterious letter was delivered to the sheriff’s department containing an unknown powder which prompted the response of the LAPD Hazmat and the FBI.

“We’ve got to do something on campus because, especially with this building, our buildings just get bigger, it's going to be more difficult to secure them and keep our students safe — keep our faculty and staff safe,” Read said.


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