A group of pre-school soccer players scheduled to play at Promontory elementary school Saturday morning were thwarted by weekend vandals.
Parents and kids were kept out of the school gym by police investigating a break-in at the front of the school.
"They stole three fire extinguishers and broke a couple of inside windows," School District No. 33 secretary-treasurer Maureen Carradice told the Times, "The total cost was maybe $1,500 worth of damage. It's not huge."
The nature of the thefts and damage has led district officials to conclude vandalism and not theft was the primary aim of the culprits.
Promontory has a history of vandalism, including two deliberately set playground fires in 2011, and windows at the back of the school are protected by roll shutters-an anti-vandalism measure in place at several Chilliwack schools.
But district officials have shied away from putting shutters up on school fronts.
"Quite frankly, it looks jail-y," Carra-dice said. "So, in order to prevent that look, we haven't been doing vandalism prevention of that type at the front."
Window-breaking and graffiti are the most common forms of vandalism in Chilliwack, she said, and for the most part the district's "dark campus" policy has been effective in reducing incidents.
"We turn our lights out outside. It's kind of counterintuitive, but what the research says is that vandals of the type that vandalize schools are showing off for friends, so if the campus is dark so they can't actually see or show off what they're doing, they're less inclined to spray-paint walls and do all that kind of stuff."
Carradice couldn't say exactly how much vandalism costs the district every year because vandalism repairs are included in a general repair and maintenance account, but she said vandalism in School District No. 33 has "absolutely not" seen a dramatic increase in recent years.
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