Police continue search for West Valley City school burglars

Jul 26, 2023, 3:01 PM | Updated: 3:29 pm

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – Earlier this month, Esperanza Elementary, a school in West Valley City, was broken into and police are still looking for the people responsible.

Surveillance video showed the burglars as they stole a variety of sentimental and valuable items that belonged to the school’s mariachi band.

On Wednesday, police said they are following leads and do not believe the act was done by a professional burglary crew.

“We are charging ahead. There’s no pausing. There’s no stops. It’s been going since the 8th,” said Ardeni Prutina, West Valley City Police Detective.

For close to a month, police said they have been working and following leads to figure out who broke into the school and stole instruments from their mariachi band room including guitars, violins, microphones, and more.

“I mean, to break in here and steal thousands of dollars will probably be some sort of felonies coming at them,” Prutina said. 

Shadow boxes that used to display what were signed soccer jerseys from top athletes are still empty, but not for much longer.

“We’re really glad and happy that Real Salt Lake has donated a shirt and they signed it again. The Utah Stars are also going to replace the shirt that was taken, and the Mexican consulate is trying to help us get the shirt from Mexico City that was also taken,” Eulogio Alejandre, Esperanza Elementary principal said.

Thanks to a generous community, what was a low note is turning out to be a high note.

“New guitars and new violins and all those replacements and even more than we anticipated because people have been donating through the fund online.  I think some of the guitars that were broken, we were going to just fix them. Now, we’re going to have new guitars,” Alejandre said.

Prutina said it looks like three teens about 14 to 17 years old were responsible. They may have all been male but one could have been a female. 

“Burglaries are up. Juvenile burglaries are certainly there. This is a weird place to burglarize since it’s an elementary school. It happens, so I think the burglaries are right there. I think school’s out, I think they were just messing around,” Prutina said. “I mean, what are 14-year-olds doing up at one or four in the morning? I think they are just being dumb.”

The detective said the investigation is still a work in progress, but they are aggressively working and hope to have more answers in the next week or two.

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Police continue search for West Valley City school burglars