Thefts cost music students, department $18,000 in equipment

February 2, 2010 — by Lauren Kuan and Karen Yang

More than $18,000 worth of instruments and equipment was stolen from the music department's band and choir rooms in two separate incidents in early and mid January, though there was no evidence of forced entry.

Two privately owned violins, a school-owned bass clarinet, a computer system belonging to the choir, some percussion instruments and several tuners were missing after students came to school on Jan. 12.

Among the violins stolen, one belonged to junior Yuning Yang and another to junior Anthony Sutardja. The violins were worth $600 and $5,000, respectively.

"I thought someone was borrowing my violin, but then my mom just said to not worry about it," said Yang. "They probably stole it because violins tend to be worth a lot of money."

Sutardja said that he does not understand why the thief stole his violin because there were so many other ones there too. On Jan. 24, a local resident found Sutardja's under a bush on his property and returned it to the school. Sutardja was able to identify the violin as his. However, the case and bow are still missing, and the violin is severely damaged from the rain and sun.

"I care about the monetary value of the violin," said Sutardja, "but I think no matter what, I still need to get it repaired because it's cheaper than getting a new violin."

Music director Michael Boitz suspects that the thief attempted to sell the instruments on Ebay or Craiglist, but Boitz has left the investigations to assistant principal Joe Bosco and sheriff's deputies. The music department has never had a theft problem of this magnitude before.

Boitz said deputies believe a student committed the crime due to the lack of rationale to which the items were stolen. Despite this, Bosco and the deputies are still "looking at all avenues" to avoid eliminating any possibilities of finding the culprit.

"We don't really have behavioral problems at Saratoga High," said Boitz. "It is very minimal compared to other schools, but for some reason, we have a lot of theft going on."

Because of the recent thefts, Bosco urges students and staff to lock personal belongings out of view and to avoid bringing valuable belongings to school if possible.

"Of course, we're ramping up security," said Bosco. "We're concerned about the recent thefts, and we're taking all precautions necessary to eliminate them as much as possible."

Although the door may possibly have been unlocked or ajar during the time of the theft, Boitz believed that the music building had been locked during the time of the theft and thinks the thief may have been in possession of a copy of a key. He encourages the person who has stolen the items to return them anonymously.

"It's really difficult for kids at Saratoga High because kids are involved in a lot of different things," said Boitz. "They go after school for a practice or rehearsal and they think that it'd be safe to leave their belongings right here, but it is causing me great concern that it is not."

On Jan. 28, Yang's violin was found inside of Sutardja's case along with his bow at Foothill Elementary but it is still unknown who has committed the theft.

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