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Police: vandalism suspects still on the run

Five juveniles entered the club men’s gymnastics team’s gym in January, causing thousands of dollars in damages.

In an investigation that is now nearing a length of four months, Philadelphia and Temple Police are still looking to identify, find and arrest five people involved in the burglary and vandalism in the men’s club gymnastics space on Main Campus.

On Jan. 9, five teenage boys broke into Gym 143 in Pearson Hall, breaking mirrors, a flat-screen TV and spilling betadine on a gymnastics mat, police said.

“[Police] have clear video of the kids coming in the back door,” coach Fred Turoff said last week. “Outside of that, I’ve let police handle it.”

Turoff said the incident was an “inconvenience” to his team at the start of this semester, but added it didn’t impact their performance during the season.

In early February, Philadelphia Police released surveillance video of the five suspects entering and exiting a rear door in Pearson Hall. According to a press release, the suspects broke several mirrors and computer monitors and spray-painted several floors and walls.

Executive Director of Campus Safety Services Charlie Leone said last week that Temple Police “are keeping the investigation open and will continue following up on any leads.”

Det. King Paramore, who has worked with Temple Police for 24 years, said after the department filed an initial incident report, a Philadelphia Police department report was filed to broaden the investigation to include Philadelphia Police’s Central Detective Division. He added he has been collaborating with Philadelphia Police Det. Thomas Hood in the investigation.

Paramore said the suspects came from the western part of campus and crossed the track south of Geasey Field. He added that detectives went to high schools and middle schools throughout the city, but no security officials or other personnel were able to identify the suspects.

Following that search, Temple Police deployed plainclothes officers in Liacouras Garage a few weeks after the incident, after hearing the people from the video had been in the same area—but those efforts were also unsuccessful, Paramore said.

He added one of the issues with identifying these suspects is that they don’t have a criminal record because they are juveniles. Family, friends or community members, however, should be able to identify them given the video, Paramore said.

Paramore said the cost of the damages could be more than $10,000, given the broken mirrors, showcases, TV and other items, along with spray paint on staircases and floors in the building. The university’s facilities management office is also calculating the cost of labor to clean the building after the burglary and vandalism occurred, he said.

The long-time detective said that given the high cost of the damages, the five juveniles could be charged with felony burglary. There are, however, other options for the suspects that prosecutors could decide on, he said.

“I would hate to think someone would overlook the fact that there could be a minor or juvenile that needed some kind of intervention to help them,” Paramore said. “It’s not always about prosecution.”

He still hopes police and the nearby community can work together to identify and locate the five involved.

“If you see something, say something,” Paramore said. “I would like to see us foster a culture people see as we’re working together, as opposed to snitching.”

Steve Bohnel can be reached at steve.bohnel@temple.edu or on Twitter at @Steve_Bohnel.

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