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Nov 5, 2012 9:14 AM by Samantha Ptashkin

County spending thousands on break-ins, vandalism at parks, rec centers

TUCSON - Raul Martinez usually loves coming to work every day at the Littletown Community Center.

But on November 1, the rec center program coordinator couldn't believe what he saw when he arrived at the facility at 6465 South Craycroft Road. "I was doing my usual thing," Martinez says. "I came inside and I noticed the office door was open."

The office was in shambles. "The computer was missing and I was like, 'okay, what's going on?'" Martinez says.

The kitchen was also a mess. "All the cabinets were just left open, like they were looking for some stuff," Martinez says.

Several doors were damaged. "It looked like they had all been kicked in," Martinez says.

Tucson Police say officers responded to Martinez's call the morning after Halloween. "The community center appeared to be broken into," Sgt. Matt Dietzman says.

Pima County leaders say this is just the latest in a series of break-in and vandalism cases at Pima County parks and recreation centers. "A very rough estimate is our parks division spent approximately $100,000 last year fixing vandalism and replacing equipment that was stolen," says Kelly Cheeseman of Pima County Parks and Recreation.

Cheeseman says in response, the county has put up surveillance cameras at several locations. "Unfortunately it has limited success, because a lot of times it happens at night and the photos are grainy," Cheeseman says.

Alarm systems are also being installed at a few of the rec centers under renovation.

Meanwhile, Tucson Police are still investigating the break-in at Littletown and Martinez is left picking up the pieces. "This is wrong, you're stealing from the kids, you're stealing from the community members," Martinez says.

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