Vandals Damage School Athletic Complex

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NORTH CANTON, Ohio -- School administrators and police are hoping for a tip that helps identify vandals who damaged the North Canton City School District's athletic complex.

North Canton Schools' Business Manager Todd Henne says the discovery was made on November 18.

A damaged and bent gate was found on the perimeter of the school's soccer fields through which the vandals are believed to have entered the property.

From there they kicked in a door on the soccer field press box, kicked in another door on the concession stand, damaged the track timer tower and broke into the football office and locker room at the stadium.

There the vandals emptied several fire extinguishers and damaged lockers. An LCD television and stereo were missing according to police reports.

"This is much more than a prank.They clearly crossed the line legally and certainly against the school rules so, I don’t know what their intentions were but I think that they know now that they went too far," said Henne.

The vandals also then turfed the school's soccer field with a golf cart that had been used by the football team to haul water and equipment. The golf cart was located about a mile away; its steering mechanism was no longer operating.

"The tie rod end was busted, the frame that holds the steering bracket itself was twisted, the front corners of the cart is messed up. The rear bumper, the bed was smashed together," said Jerry Wolfe, a school district mechanic.

"We know that the golf cart was ditched just a few minutes after midnight and that was reported by a youth in the area who heard that noise made. The problem is in the morning when each neighbor woke up, one neighbor thought it was the other neighbors and the other neighbor thought it was the other one across the alley way so we were another twelve or fourteen hours until we realized there was a theft and a vandalism taking place," added Henne.

The district is awaiting a final total on the cost of the damages from their insurance company.

"Either way there is going to be an expense on the school end that won’t be recovered, and that’s why we would definitely like to find out who are the perpetrators of this," said Henne.

North Canton Police detectives are also trying to do what they can to identify those who are responsible.

"It's more than a teenage prank. It’s outright vandalism and it’s vandalism to government property," said North Canton Police Chief Stephan Wilder, adding that the result could be felony charges. "We've got theft, vandalism, breaking and entering," said Wilder.

Both school administrators and police believe more than one person knows who is responsible and they are also hopeful that someone will share the information that they have, even if they do so anonymously.

"It puts a burden on the school." said Wilder. "That’s money that they don’t always have to make repairs."

Athletic boosters are willing to help offset the cost of the repairs, but Henne says he doesn't want them to have to pay for it either.

"We certainly want to take care of our own business and let the booster money go directly to helping the students with what they need on the field," said Henne.

"We just need that first person to make a comment to a teacher, to a principal to the police whether they call and leave their name or make it anonymous. We just need a couple clues to get this going and get it solved."