Police, schools open investigation into vehicle vandalims

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LEWISTON — School officials and police are looking into vandalism to seven vehicles owned by teachers and staff at Gov. James B. Longley Elementary School and parked across the street at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee. 

“We’re at the very first steps of this in terms of information gathering from staff,” said Thomas A. Hood, principal of Longley Elementary School. He said a list of incidents involving vehicle vandalism was recently turned over to the Lewiston Public Schools district office. “They (district administration) will be working with police in terms of the steps that need to happen.”

Hood confirmed a list of incidents involving vehicles being vandalized in the Colisee parking lot that was recently sent to the Sun Journal. Seven teachers and staff members at the school reported vandalism to their vehicles between January and April, including bricks being thrown at vehicles, a woman feeling intimidated by two students while walking to her car and several vehicles being keyed.

Of those, only two people filed official reports with the Lewiston Police Department.

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Lt. Mark Cornelio said officers from the Bates Street Substation went to the school Monday to talk with Hood and those who reported damage to school officials. He stressed the importance of filing police reports in order to prompt investigations in a more timely manner.

“Obviously, once things are reported to us, it makes it much easier to devote resources to the problem area,” Cornelio said.

Cornelio said Monday was the first time the matter was brought to his attention. He said he sent an officer to the school as soon as he received a copy of the letter sent to the Sun Journal and signed “Longley Staff.”

According to Hood, teachers and staff from the school are no longer allowed to park in front of the building, which also houses the Lewiston Multi-Purpose Center and serves as home for the city’s senior center. He said the change came about at the start of this school year following a series of talks between the School Department, Police Department and Lewiston Recreation Department. Hood said the change created several more handicapped parking spaces for senior citizens attending daily activities at the center.

He also confirmed that it also seems to have brought about more vandalism than ever before across the street at the Colisee. Hood said school security cameras do not reach across the street to the Colisee parking lot, making it difficult for the school to catch vandals in the act. Neither Hood nor Cornelio were clear on who would be responsible for installing additional security cameras if that was deemed the best course of action, since the parking lot is considered private property.

Hood is hopeful that police involvement will bring a speedy closure to the matter.

“The goal is to have the matter resolved quickly,” Hood said. “I think the staff have taken some proactive steps already. I would expect that as soon as the Police Department can get together on this, there will be some further recommendations on what staff members can do.”

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