Vandals, arsonists and metal thieves cost the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) more than $100,000 a year — money the cash-strapped district cannot afford.

That’s why SCUSD is asking the community for help in keeping schools safe and secure over the long summer break, which stretches until the first Tuesday after Labor Day in September.

“Graffiti taggers, arsonists and metal thieves are robbing our students of money we need to support our schools,” said Superintendent Jonathan Raymond. “It’s unconscionable that in this time of fiscal crisis that these criminals would victimize schools and hurt our ability to educate kids.”

Most of SCUSD schools are surrounded by homes and the district is counting on neighbors to join in protecting campuses by reporting any suspicious activity, said Sacramento Police Lt. Lisa Hinz, who heads SCUSD security services.

All SCUSD campuses will be locked and alarmed during the break, and all security cameras will be monitored. However, the most effective anti-crime tool remains alert community members who “do the right thing and report suspected criminal activity,” Hinz said. “The schools belong to the community,” she added, “and we need the entire community to help us guard them.”

For schools within Sacramento city limits call 264-5471. Residents outside city boundaries should call the county Sheriff’s Department at 874-5115. School security can also be called 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 643-7444.

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