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Solar panels, windows damaged by vandalism overnight at Reynolds secondary

Solar panels atop Reynolds secondary school were damaged overnight Wednesday or Thursday. Fourteen windows in the school were also smashed. - Photo courtesy of the Saanich Police Department
Solar panels atop Reynolds secondary school were damaged overnight Wednesday or Thursday. Fourteen windows in the school were also smashed.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of the Saanich Police Department

Fourteen solar panels and 15 windows were smashed at Reynolds secondary in Saanich Wednesday night or Thursday morning.

Saanich police say a vandal or vandals threw baseball-sized pieces of concrete taken from a nearby lumber yard through the west-facing windows of the school. They then made their way onto the roof and damaged 14 solar panels.

"It's not uncommon for us to be investigating vandalism at schools. Broken windows are one of the things we do investigate, and it generally coincides with the start of the school year or other school breaks," said Sgt. Steve Eassie. "But solar panels are taking it a step above and beyond."

Baseball-sized piece of concrete that was thrown through a window at Reynold secondary. (Photo courtesy of the Saanich Police Department)

Police don't have any suspects and are unsure of when exactly the vandalism occurred, as they received no reports of breaking glass or suspicious people in the area around Borden Street. Custodians discovered the damage around 6:30 a.m. on Thursday.

The cost of all the damage is still unknown, but Seamus Howley, the school district's director of facilities, says the window replacing will cost $2,000, and the solar panels, which the school won through an environmental grant, were valued at $26,000 including installation.

"The cost of repairing vandalism takes away from the education of students. This is a needless waste of limited resources that school districts have to put into the classrooms," Howley said.

He said the district spends up to $200,000 each year on vandalism-related expenses at Greater Victoria schools, including replacing windows, removing graffiti and repairing damaged sports fields.

In June 2010, 96 windows at Mount Douglas secondary were smashed by vandals. Those windows were replaced at a cost of $10,000. Howley says that's the single-largest vandalism-related event he's seen at a school.

The solar panels were used to help reduce heating costs at the school, taking "two classrooms off the grid," Howley said. They were also used as an educational tool.

Police are asking residents – especially youth – to keep an eye or an ear out for any information.

"If anyone finds information, they see somebody bragging about it on Facebook, please forward us that information. There are ways to take a screenshot and forward that information directly to us," he said. "If somebody sees something, or hears someone talking about it, please contact us."

Police are asking anyone with information to call 250-475-4321.

kslavin@saanichnews.com

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