Social Media, Security Cameras Bust School Vandals
Between security cameras, social networking and word of mouth, it's becoming easier than ever to identify exactly who's behind a recent string of school vandalism.
Thursday morning didn't start out so well for Anchorage School District Superintendent Carol Comeau.
"I was coming from a meeting downtown and I was told that West High had been broken into and there was substantial damage," Comeau said Sunday, walking through the back yard of her South Anchorage home.
"It's just stupid to begin with, that they think they're going to get away with it."
Students had overturned desks, destroyed supplies and sprayed a fire extinguisher throughout several classrooms, but the five teeneagers responsible were caught red-handed by school security cameras.
"Before the day was very far gone, the students had been arrested and identified and we're moving to recommend to the school board that they be expelled," Comeau said.
The district draws a hard line on property destruction, and Comeau said it's much more than an innocent prank.
"We don't just say one size fits all, but there are some crimes that rise to a very high level very quickly," she said.
Vandalism is one of those crimes.
Several weeks ago, arsonists at Fairview Elementary School caused more than $200,000 worth of damage when they set fire to the playground, and Comeau said the district has already far surpassed its $300,000 annual budget for repairing and cleaning up vandalism.
Just like the West High students arrested Thursday, the Fairview firebug was caught when the arson was recorded on school surveillance cameras, and it points to a growing trend.
"The cameras caught the action," Comeau said. "We had students already talking about it."
Between security cameras, social networking and word of mouth, it's becoming easier than ever to identify exactly who's behind the crimes.
While the high school vandals wore clown masks to cover their identity from security cameras, they were found out when they bragged about their costumes the next day on Facebook.
In 2003, three girls were arrested for vandalism at Dimond High School after they also bragged about their crimes on Facebook.
"it's amazing to me," Comeau said, laughing.
So while crime never paid in the first place, today's digital world is making sure it never will.