April 18, 2024

IE COMMUNITY NEWS

El Chicano, Colton Courier, Rialto Record

Colton High Rocked by $20K+ Equipment Heist, Allegedly 10 Classrooms Burglarized Over Spring Break

3 min read

Pepper Bough Editor Brandon Salvato, Editor Matthew Monge, and Advisor Jeremiah Dollins standing in the classroom in February 2024.

In a shocking spring break heist, allegedly 10 classrooms at Colton High School were burglarized, resulting in the loss of over $20,000 worth of digital equipment from the school’s student news publication the Pepper Bough and other areas.

Pepper Bough adviser, Mr. Jeremiah Dollins, reported a series of unsettling break-ins across the campus, including the theft of valuable equipment from the publication’s studio. “It’s like a home invasion. This is our home away from home, and to have it violated in such a manner is devastating. It’s not just a loss for us, but for the entire school community that we provide coverage for,” Dollins lamented.

Among the stolen items were 15 digital Canon cameras, a set of lights, microphones, and flashbulbs, as well as Dollins’ personal Nikon camera, bass guitar, and amplifier. “They knew exactly what they were looking for. It’s clear that this wasn’t a random act,” Dollins added, noting that drones were spared, likely due to their hidden location known only to a select few students.

The intruders also targeted the Dreamer Alliance Club’s advisor room, making off with $600 in cash. “Our students are feeling a profound sense of violation. This isn’t just about the equipment; it’s about the sense of security we’ve lost,” Dollins expressed.

Erin Dallatorre, Editor-in-Chief of the Pepper Bough, shared the disbelief and frustration felt by the student body. “When Mr. Dollins broke the news, my heart sank. Our publication relies heavily on this equipment for senior portraits, yearbook photos, and covering school events. It’s a huge setback for us,” Dallatorre stated.

She also said this incident is a huge loss to the greater campus because the publication literally covers everything with a photographer from sports, to theater, lunchtime events and everything in-between; and without the proper equipment she fears their work quality may be compromised. 

Pepper Bough Editor-in-Chief Erin Dallatorre.

The absence of forced entry in several of the CHS spring break burglaries has caused much speculation and suspicions of insider involvement. “It’s unsettling to think that someone with access to the school could be responsible,” Dallatorre remarked.

Teachers who have been victims of the break-ins are reportedly equally distraught. Particularly affected was the ELD Teacher Ms. Medina, whose Dreamers Allies Club classroom was burglarized. “She was devastated. Not only was $600 in fundraising money stolen, but they also stole 20 Apple pens from her classroom,” Dallatorre explained.

Security concerns have been amplified by the incident, with several teachers and students voicing their fears. “It’s a reminder of how vulnerable we are, especially when security presence diminishes after hours. I’m in marching band and stay after school a lot, and when security leaves shortly after school ends, we’re on our own. I do think that more cameras and better alarm systems could protect our campus in the future,” Dallatorre added.

The school and the Pepper Bough are rallying to recover from the losses, with efforts to raise funds and replace the stolen equipment underway. “We’re determined to bounce back from this. Our work is too important to let this stop us,” Dollins affirmed.

Colton High School and local authorities are investigating the break-ins, urging anyone with information to come forward. The school community remains hopeful for justice and a return to a sense of normalcy.

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