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School burglars may have gang ties

Six teenagers, some of whom appeared to have gang connections, were taken into custody shortly after midnight Friday morning at Crater High School, where they had broken in and were stealing computer equipment, Central Point police said.

An alarm summoned police to the school at about 12:30 a.m. Friday. An officer found that someone had broken a second-story window to get inside. When he looked down a hall, he saw a group of people with their faces covered ducking in and out of rooms, Central Point police Lt. Chuck Newell said.

The officer called for back-up, bringing help from the Oregon State Police, Medford and Phoenix police and the Jackson County Sheriff's Office. The officers and a police dog searched and secured the school, Newell said in a news release. They found a stack of laptop computers and a printer that had been collected by the burglars.

Two suspects were found on the school's roof and four were found inside the school, he said. Several had tattoos linked to Sureños, a Hispanic street gang with ties to California prison gangs, while others wore blue bandannas, a color associated with the gang.

Two 18-year-olds from Central Point, Jaime Acosta and Javier Bautista, were arrested on second-degree burglary, attempted first-degree theft and third-degree criminal mischief charges and lodged in the Jackson County Jail on $10,000 bail each. Julio Heran Bombela-Barron, 19, of Central Point, faces the same charges.

All three appeared in Jackson County Circuit Court Friday.

Three younger teens will face similar burglary, mischief or theft charges in the juvenile justice system. One 17-year-old boy from Concord, Calif., was lodged in the Jackson County juvenile detention facility. A 15-year-old and a 17-year-old, of Central Point, were cited and released to their parents.

Newell noted that several of the suspects were related and were known to police.

One man carried a telescoping police-style baton, Newell said. The weapon is illegal to possess, so a weapon charge likely will be filed later. Other charges also could be pending, Newell said.

He noted that police were especially busy late Thursday and into Friday morning, arresting eight teens in two unrelated cases.

Prior to the break-in at the high school, two teenagers were taken into custody for allegedly breaking into six parked cars.

About 10:25 p.m. Thursday, an officer spotted two teenage boys on North 10th Street and stopped to talk to them, Newell said.

When the two 16-year-olds — one from Central Point and one from Gold Hill — offered a sketchy explanation of what they were doing out, the officer linked them to a string of car break-ins around the neighborhood, Newell said.

Six vehicles had been entered and money, CDs, sunglasses and other small valuables left in the cars were taken, he said.

"They took anything of value that they could take," Newell said.

Both boys were charged with six counts of unauthorized entry into a vehicle and three counts each of second- and third-degree theft.

Officers were cataloging evidence from that case and awaiting the teens' parents when the alarm came in from the school, Newell said.