Burglars smash dozens of cars as teens party


A special night for graduating seniors at a Pleasant Hill high school ended in tears and anger over the weekend. Burglars smashed into dozens of cars left unguarded in the parking lot at College Park High School.

"Seeing broken glass everywhere was not a good way to end the night," said student Grace Leimpeter.

It was night to remember for all the wrong reasons. More than three dozen cars were broken into on Saturday night. Another car left unlocked had things taken from inside.

"A ton of window-smash auto burglaries," said Pleasant Hill police Sgt. Matt Kristic. "Some of the victim vehicles were multiple windows that were broken. It was a mess

"A lot of people were crying, a lot of my friends were mad," said student Jenna Stefanski. "Some people were just straight silent and just keeping their anger and sadness inside."

It happened sometime between 6 and midnight in a parking lot at College Park High School in Pleasant Hill. Students rode chartered buses to their senior ball at the Scottish RIte Temple near Oakland's Lake Merritt. The reason, campus administrators, was to ensure student safety.

When they returned to campus, they were greeted with broken windows, belongings tossed carelessly on the ground.  Keys, money, credit cards and valuables were missing.

"We come home to all of our cars smashed," said student Jacob Harris. "Everybody's crying. We had a good night and it just got ruined by a bunch of cars and people who broke our windows."

In all, 37 cars were broken into.

Kristic said, "Thirty-seven auto burglaries is absolutely excessive. And it could have been that this was committed  in a short period of time, with multiple suspects."

Leimpeter says  she believes high school rivals could be to blame. She said some of the victims' cars had silly string sprayed all over them.

"It was like  green and pink , i want to say. So yeah. It was just definitely a teenager, no doubt in my mind about that." 

Another possibility is that teens from the school itself are to blame. Officials say a number of students were barred from attending the Senior Ball for various reasons. 

Police say they're casting a wide net and have some leads.

"That idea that it may have been another school - that's something certainly that investigators will look at," Kristic said. "On a night that is a night of celebration. To come home and find that. You know, it's terrible."

Principal Joe Alvarez said, "We will find out, hopefully, the people or persons that have done this." He said there will be "consequences."

The parking lot was blocked off by gates on the night of the break-ins. But the burglars came in on foot. Students say the lot was vulnerable and should have been guarded. 

"I think it's pretty bad," said student Karina Young. "I think they should have had like police officers on campus or administration guarding the parking lot, just because everyone leaves their purses and everything in the car."

Police and school officials say they are considering having staff guard the parking lot during next year's Senior Ball.

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