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Juveniles arrested for school vandalism
0111 AC unit
The vandals gained access to the schools by prying off air conditioner grills on the outside of the building, pushing the air conditioners in and then crawling through. - photo by Photo by Lewis Levine

Two juveniles were arrested Tuesday for their alleged involvement in the vandalism of Midway Middle and Liberty Elementary schools that was discovered on Jan. 9.

Because the juveniles are 14 and 15, their names are not being released.

According to Liberty County Sheriff Steve Sikes and earlier news reports, school employees arrived at work that Monday to find the two schools in disarray. Damage to property was estimated at $21,887 and $2,300 worth of computers and other school property had been taken.

The vandals gained entry by prying grates off the air conditioning vents and climbing in.

The sheriff said the case was wrapped up late Tuesday evening after LCSO Det. Julie Hibbeler was able to identify two juveniles who were later determined to be responsible for the incident.

Hibbeler said the teens were seen on the schools’ surveillance cameras, but both had their faces covered by the hoods of their jackets. She said the photos helped them narrow the list of suspects.

“There was nothing solid, but the cameras helped a bit,” she said, adding she spent eight days investigating the case. Tips helped zero in on the teens, the detective said.

Hibbeler said the teens have been charged in juvenile court on multiple counts of burglary and criminal damage to government property second degree. The juveniles were also charged with entering autos in an attempt to steal two cars parked at the schools.

The sheriff said they are continuing to investigate and have information that may link the suspects to the thefts of two motorcycles in December.

Hibbeler added that both juveniles have been in trouble with the law before.

They were turned over to the Department of Juvenile Justice and on Wednesday were taken to the Savannah Regional Youth Detention Center, pending disposition hearings.

“I have elaborated on this before and I think this is just another example of how citizen involvement is important in helping us police this community,” Sikes said. “It’s imperative that citizens understand how vital they are in helping us fight crime and keep everyone safe. It was a job well done.”

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