Thieves strike Azusa Pacific University's High Desert campus
Electrical damage, stolen items valued at $150K
December 13, 2011 2:32 PM
BEATRIZ E. VALENZUELA and NATASHA LINDSTROM, Staff Writers
VICTORVILLE • Employees arrived at Azusa Pacific University's High Desert campus Monday morning to find their building had been ransacked by vandals to the tune of some $150,000 in damage.
The unidentified burglars yanked out the building’s electrical panels and stole 20 laptops, three desktop computers, drawers of files, a coin-operated printer, a military Stetson and sword on display in an office and other personal items. Doors were broken, drawers of files had been emptied and candy that had been put out for guests littered the floor.
“It was a big mess. They did a lot of destruction ...” said Donald Rucker, director of the High Desert extension of APU, a private Christian college based about 60 miles southwest of Victorville in Azusa. “We’re kind of in a crisis here.”
Nearly all of the 37,000-square-foot building’s electrical wiring must be replaced, and the stolen items were valued at $70,000 to $80,000, according to Rucker. He said estimated the total cost of the damage amounts to around $150,000.
San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Victorville detectives were called out and are conducting an investigation into the break-in, Karen Hunt, spokeswoman for the Victorville station, said. Authorities are still tallying up the official damage figure.
It’s the second report of a break-in at the campus in the past six months. In June, vandals stole about 20 computers but didn’t destroy the electrical system, Rucker said.
The bulk of the damage from the latest break-in happened sometime between 3 p.m. Sunday and 7:30 a.m. Monday.
But Rucker said they also caught video surveillance of two men breaking into the building around 4 a.m. Sunday. It appeared they arrived early to scope out the building and shut off the power, but didn’t ransack the place until later that night or early Monday morning.
“We had three people in the office Sunday that came in to drop things off and everything was in order,” Rucker said, “but Monday morning the place was a wreck.”
Investigators have not released whether they are currently working any leads in the case, but they said it’s an active investigation. They have not released any suspect descriptions.
APU opened the Victorville facility on a 30-year lease in March 2010 on Pahute Road near Locust Avenue, just east of Interstate 15 and south of Bear Valley Road. For the previous 12 years, APU had been offering credentialing and degree completion in human development and organizational leadership out of leased buildings at the Victor Valley College campus. The new campus now also offers a nursing bachelor’s degree program.
The APU High Desert campus currently serves about 300 students and has five office staff and 40 faculty members.
VVC offered up classroom space so APU students could take their finals this week. Rucker is hopeful the school will be back in shape — with additional security measures in place — after students return from winter break.
“We hope to have things back up and running very soon,” Rucker said. “We’re all pretty upset with this, and we’d like to see these guys caught and justice served.”
Anyone with information on this latest break-in or the one in June is asked to contact the Victorville station at (760) 241-2911 or call WeTip at (800) 78-CRIME.
Natasha Lindstrom may be reached at (760) 951-6232 or at NLindstrom@VVDailyPress.com