Magna vandals strike again; UPD says multiple schools, churches, cars targeted

May 15, 2024, 12:15 AM | Updated: 12:28 am

MAGNA — Vandals who caused tens of thousands of dollars of damage throughout a Magna neighborhood have returned, now allegedly hitting multiple schools, churches, and people’s vehicles.

The Unified Police Department is asking residents in Magna to stay alert as detectives work to link everything together in an effort to stop the culprits.

Many of the incidents were caught on surveillance, showing what appears to be a group of teens who are sometimes laughing and joking as they prowl around neighborhoods, causing problems.

Around 3 a.m. last Saturday, the sound of smashing glass awoke Jessica Dunn’s neighbors, startling them.

The neighbors promptly went outside and found two windows busted out on Dunn’s mother’s vehicle. They immediately knocked on her door and called the police. They also had video of the incident, showing the group walking along the sidewalk before the sound of breaking glass was heard.

“It’s scary that you don’t even feel safe in your own neighborhood. You don’t feel safe in your own home,” Dunn said. “Anybody can be coming down here, lurking. What if they had busted out my front door, you know, with my kids inside?”

broken car windows

Damage to car windows in May 2024. (Jessica Dunn)

Schools and churches targeted

Around the time officers responded to her house, they also received calls of a break-in and vandalism at a church and Elk Run Elementary. Dunn said police left her house to go straight to the church, where Unified Police Lt. Shane Manwaring said all the fire extinguishers were sprayed throughout the building.

Video recorded by a nearby homeowner shows officers at the elementary, with the school alarms ringing out around 3:30 a.m. Granite School District said windows were smashed and damaged around the front door area, with the damage estimated at $10,000.

Manwaring said that last Saturday was just the latest in the string of vandalisms dating back to March they believe are all related. There are now up to 19 cases that detectives are investigating.

“It’s a bunch of juveniles getting together and feeling like they’re invincible and able to go and cause problems throughout the area of Magna,” he said. “It’s just so prolific. It’s not a single incident. We’ve got them going through neighborhoods and breaking windows and on several cars.”

He said the cases range from vandalism to burglaries. One video Manwaring provided to KSL TV shows a teen stealing a package off a porch. He explained the places targeted include two schools, two churches, a business, parks, cars, and private property.

Some of the videos show the teens going up to front doors and kicking them, but not actually causing damage. Manwaring said nothing had been stolen from the vehicles where windows were smashed out.

“It’s nonsensical,” he said. “It’s just them going around causing problems.”

a group caught but not identified on video

Surveillance shows a group of what appears to be juveniles kicking a front door, believed to be linked to recent vandalism (Unified Police Department)

Previous vandalism cases

KSL TV last week reported on significant vandalism at Matheson Junior High, where vandals smashed their way through the entire school after breaking in Friday night the week prior. Granite School District explained that the suspected juveniles damaged or completely destroyed 140 pieces of glass, plus sprayed fire extinguishers and wrecked AEDs.

The damage estimate is $50,000, though, now the district will need to add the additional estimated $10,000 from the Elk Run Elementary incident.

The district said at the time that four former junior high students were identified, arrested, and booked into juvenile detention. However, the district said students were then released from juvenile detention back to their parents after being booked.

Suspiciously a few days later, on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, windows were smashed on several vehicles in the area of the junior high.

Vandals shatter windows around Magna school, neighborhood

After Saturday morning’s latest smash spree, Manwaring said detectives were called in and interviewed the juveniles. They are processing evidence and working on DNA warrants.

He said they thought it was four juveniles, but they now believe the number is up to nine.

“We’ve been able to identify the majority of the suspects involved,” he said. “We actually were able to arrest one and put him into juvenile detention where he’s at right now.”

man in an office watching a tv monitor

Lt. Shane Manwaring watches a surveillance video showing suspected teen vandals in May of 2024. (Lauren Steinbrecher, KSL TV)

As investigators work with the district attorney’s office on charges against the others, Manwaring is asking residents to report any juveniles out past curfew and any suspicious sights or sounds. He urged people to keep porch lights on and to park vehicles inside garages if possible.

“It’s hurting our public. It’s hurting individuals, and we just won’t stand for it,” he said. “We won’t allow it to happen in our community.”

Dunn is wondering what this means for her and her mom. She said her mother is on Social Security with a very limited income. Having to spend nearly $500 out-of-pocket to replace two windows had a severe impact.

“I want somebody to be accountable for them, whether it’s the children themselves, the parents, the grandparents, aunts, uncles — whoever they’re living with and whoever’s financially responsible for these kids — they need to be held accountable as well,” Dunn said.

She’s wondering why this keeps happening and when it’ll stop.

“It’s an unsettling feeling to know that it’s going on,” she said. “They’ve been captured before. They were released. And here we are.”

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Magna vandals strike again; UPD says multiple schools, churches, cars targeted