Police search for man who trashed NJ school

January 5, 2010 3:03:02 PM PST
The hunt is on for a vandal who trashed a school in New Jersey.The man tore sinks and pipes from the wall overnight Tuesday and ransacked classrooms and the library. But he left something behind that could help cops find him.

Now, we're getting a look inside at the damage at the Primary Prep Elementary School in Jersey City.

Surveillance video shows the grainy image of the burglar as he snatched the cord from a video monitor. Around 11:30 p.m. Monday, he ripped the security gate from a library to get in and then tore some rooms apart.

"It's heartbreaking," school founder Maureen Hoffmann said. "We put a lot of work into this building"

Teachers cleaned up the desks and shelves that were dumped out, and plumbers will repair several faucets that were severed. The damaged piped flooding two rooms. The burglar tried, but failed, to rip out valuable copper plumbing. Out of frustration, maybe, he trashed the children's dance studio and art room.

"It's hard to believe someone would do this," parent Anne Marusic said. "All we can do is control how we respond. The school did a good job."

But with so much damage to repair, even the kids wanted to help in their own way.

"Some wanted to play detective to see where (the suspect) may have left fingerprints," teacher Jason Hoffman said.

Police dusted for fingerprints, including all the loot the burglar left behind because he could not get it over the security gates outside. He also left two ski masks and a half eaten frozen hotdog, which may give police his DNA.

Classes were in session Tuesday, as the school did not allow the culprit to keep its kids from learning.

"They're the best kids in the world," Hoffmann said. "So we will get past this."