2 men arrested in school burglary

Deputies say school break-in part of larger trend

ORANGE PARK, Fla. - Two men were arrested Wednesday night after deputies said they broke into Orange Park Junior High School.

The Clay County Sheriff's Office says it's a sign of a larger trend in which crooks are targeting schools because of their limited security.

Police continued patrolling the school Thursday.

"(As) part of our proactive enforcement, we'll go and check areas we know have been targeted in the past and are areas of responsibility, and that's what Deputy (C.B.) Ruby did last night," said Sgt. Scott Chalker.

It was about 11:15 p.m. Wednesday, and Deputy Ruby spotted a suspicious red Chevy Blazer near the band building. He called for backup, and one deputy arrived with his K-9.

"In this particular instance it was to look for human scent in a tracking mode," Chalker said.

The dog took the deputies around the back of the school, and they spotted the men, whom deputies identified as 21-year old Dustin Gladden and 19-year old Cory Portch (pictured). Deputies said they ordered them to the ground, and the men told the officers they were looking for their dog that ran away.

When deputies checked out the scene, they found two shirts covering door handles to the school and rolls of trash bags the men admitted taking from inside the school, according to investigators.

"This was an outstanding job with the officers involved using teamwork and officer safety tactics to locate these two suspects," Chalker said.

Chalker concentrates on juvenile crimes and said schools are broken into far too often.

"Whether it's a portable left unlocked, classroom left unlocked or main door to a building left unlocked, and then there are times of forced entry," he said. "It does happen on a more common basis than we'd like to see it."

That's why deputies take precautions, such as regular property checks, to prevent these crimes, something the superintendent appreciates.

"If the neighborhoods and families could help us keep an eye on their own children and on our schools and call the sheriff's office if you see something that looks suspicious or unusual, we would appreciate it," Clay County Superintendent Charlie Van Zant said.

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