East Bay News

Hayward school victim of solar panel theft

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Solar panel thieves have struck again at a Bay Area high school. This time, thousands of dollars of panels and equipment disappeared from Hayward High School last weekend.

The 10-foot pole was cut down like a tree and four empty squares mark the space where the solar panels used to sit at Hayward High School.

"Schools today are hurting, so for thieves to come and take something that belongs to our 1,700 students and the community as well is just a shame, I think," school principal George Bullis said.

On the back side of the 70-acre campus, there's a garden and ecology center. That's where, overnight Saturday, according to police, thieves cut through a lock on a gate, used a power tool to cut through the pole, removed the four panels and carted them away.

The force of the falling pole killed baby birds nesting under the panels.

The school says they're worth $1,000 each and the converter connecting them to the school's grid is worth $2,500.

They were installed only three months ago with a grant from PG&E and they were a key part of a new program that teaches alternative energy careers, set to launch next year.

Surveillance cameras were too far away to offer much help.

"We have some footage of flashlights in the area around the time we think it happened. We are unable to determine if those are the suspects," Officer Rod Pierce from Hayward Police said.

Just last week, 100 solar panels worth $43,000 were stolen from Oceana High School in Pacifica. Police in that case are asking for the public's help.

Hayward High School is watching for their panels to show up on Craigslist or eBay.

"We do have some people on campus, some of our campus supervisors are looking online to see if they post any similar solar panels," Pierce said.

The principal says PG&E might help pay the school's insurance deductible and replace the panels.

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Tags:
crime, hayward, solar energy, east bay news, heather ishimaru
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