Suspects sought in theft of $120K in college stage equipment

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Police are searching for two burglars who made off with more than $100,000 in stage equipment from Glendale Community College.

The thieves broke into the college's performing arts center on two separate occasions and stole high-end sound and lighting equipment.

The first incident occurred sometime between Dec. 14 and 27 and the second on New Year's Day.

"One of the burglaries was a forced entry and they entered via the construction fence that we had on the south side of the building," said Debra Palok, Commander of the Maricopa Community Colleges Public Safety Department. "The burglaries happened at a time when our campus was vulnerable because it was under construction."

Palok said the stolen items are worth about $120,000 total.

"This is a huge hit to that college," Silent Witness Coordinator Sgt. Darren Burch said.

Silent Witness is offering a reward of up to $1,000 to anyone who provides information that leads to the arrest of the burglars.

Police reviewed surveillance footage from the campus, but it only captured the burglars' vehicle -- a dark, two-door Chevrolet or GMC pickup truck.

"We absolutely need the public's help, " Burch said. "This is the type of crime where we don't have a lot to go on. We don't have great video showing the suspects' faces. We don't even know if they are male or female."

Burch said the stolen goods should draw some attention in the community.

"This is real high-end equipment,” he said. “This is property that would stand out at a pawn shop."

Roy Hawkins, owner of Desert Pawn, said he does everything possible to keep stolen property out of his shop.

"First of all, you look at the individual and make sure that he looks like he belongs to the item," Hawkins explained. "If everything looks good, we will get a fingerprint, driver’s license, address -- all of his pertinent information."

Hawkins said that information is sent electronically to police every day.

"I personally like the police tickets because with the fingerprint on the ticket, it tends to make the bad guys stay out of our shop," Hawkins said.

If crooks do manage to pawn stolen goods, the information gathered by Hawkins helps police make arrests.

"We do our jobs properly. That, for one thing, should be a major help for them," Hawkins said.

In the seven years Desert Pawn has been in business, Hawkins said he has had about 50 stolen items seized by law enforcement. He said police determined the items were stolen with help from the information he is required to submit.

As for Glendale Community College's missing property, Silent Witness hopes anyone with information will step forward.

To leave an anonymous tip, contact Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS.