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5 arrested, linked to school vandalism

May 16, 2008 9:04:18 AM PDT
Police in south suburban Country Club Hills have arrested five boys in connection with vandalism at a school. They range in age from 11 to 15.

Southwood Middle School in Country Club Hills was ransacked over the weekend. There was thousands of dollars in damage inside the building.

Vandals trashed the media center, the teachers lounge and released fire extinguishers throughout the school. On Monday, students were sent to a nearby community center because the damage was not cleaned up in time for classes.

Police charged four middle school students and one high school student with felony burglary and criminal damage.

"They, for the most part, told us they were bored. They wanted to go out and do something," said Det. Lanell Gilbert, Country Club Hills Police Department.

Police say the five confessed in writing.

"They did advise that they were sorry, they would never do something like this again," said Gilbert.

But this isn't the first vandalism case at Southwood. Vandals ransacked the school in November. Two people were arrested in that case. On Thursday, the principal was disappointed about the latest incident.

"I felt saddened. I think the students, staff felt violated," said Principal John Macon.

The mayor, however, took a tougher stance and is clearly fed up with the juvenile crime in the community.

"This is a great insult to our community. These kids are out of control and it's a problem for me and my administration," said Mayor Dwight Welch.

The mayor says there is so much trouble at Southwood he sends up to 12 police cars when students are dismissed. He says others, like the school district, need to do more.

"We are doing what we can within the law, but parents need to step up and partner with us more," said Superintendent Charlie Kent, County Club Hills School District 160.

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