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Adam Taylor has had it. He’s been principal of Brookfield Elementary School for only a year and a half; during that time, he estimates his school has been broken into — get this — at least 25 times.
Two of those break-ins took place within the last week. First, speakers, microphones and other audio equipment disappeared. Then, over the weekend, burglars forced their way through protective fencing and windows to enter the school, which is located in an isolated part of East Oakland, along the Interstate 880, and stole at least 20 computers.
When the first custodian arrived at the school this morning, Taylor said, half the classroom doors were wide open.
Here’s the other thing that irks Taylor: The alarm sounded several times according to the log, he said, but it didn’t deter the burglars — or lead to their arrests. Oakland police apparently took one of the Sunday night calls and cleared it 14 seconds later.
Break-ins are a chronic headache — and heartache — for kids who attend Oakland schools and the adults who work in them. I’ve reported incidents at Sobrante Park, Claremont and Lincoln, to name a few, but that barely scratches the surface of the problem.
On KCBS, where we first learned about the theft, Taylor compared someone who would steal from a school to a pedophile. The principal didn’t make that comparison during my interview with him, but he said the thieves were stripping away the things the school had done to give its students an equal footing.
“I have a lot of very, very needy kids,” Taylor said. “We just got the computer lab up and running this year. Now we have to start all over.”
Troy Flint, OUSD’s spokesman, said the district hoped to meet with the city’s police force soon to request more night and weekend coverage for its hardest-hit schools. Another strategy, he said, is to work more closely with neighborhood crime prevention groups. (Taylor said some of the school’s neighbors were very concerned to hear about the thefts, but said they didn’t hear the alarms this weekend.)
If you would like to help Brookfield out, Taylor said, call the front office at (510) 879-1030.