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Burglars Steal Mira Costa Band Tubas

The school district instruments are valued at $20,000. Schools in the Los Angeles area have experienced a rash of instrument burglaries that some attribute to banda music.

Four King sousaphone tubas valued at $5,000 each were stolen from a storage closet in the band hall at Mira Costa High School shortly after midnight Tuesday, according to the Manhattan Beach Police Department.

Public Information Officer Stephanie Martin said two suspects with hoods covering their faces are seen on surveillance video after forcing entry into the band hall in the southeast corner of the high school campus, near an access road and adjacent to the new construction area where a science-technology facility is being built.

But unfortunately, the video is not good enough to see the suspects, Martin said. Surveillance video is a "deterrent at best," she said, and in this case documented the crime.

"Sometimes, they're [surveillance cameras] not very helpful," Martin said, due to lighting, the environment, equipment quality, and the fact that burglars can break or manipulate them.

The police report of the Mira Costa incident does not indicate that an alarm was activated when the burglars broke into the band hall.

Without good surveillance footage and no finger prints left at the scene, Martin speculated that the tubas, which are owned by the Manhattan Beach Unified School District, may show up for sale online via Craigslist for example, or at a swap meet. The burglars also could very well sell a tuba to a person who would turn them in, she said.

The King sousaphone tubas have serial numbers and the Mira Costa music instructor is verifying the numbers with the instrument's manufacturer before passing them on to police, Martin said.

The Los Angeles Times reported that banda music may be the reason the greater Los Angeles area has experienced a rash of high school marching band instrument burglaries. The popular Mexican dance music is gaining in popularity, according to the Times.

Since the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year, tubas have been stolen from South Gate, Centennial and Huntington Park high schools. All of the musical instruments at Sycamore Junior High School in Anaheim were stolen, with the burglars not taking computer equipment that was near the lockers where the instruments were kept.

Mira Costa's missing tubas were discovered by a teacher at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, the first day classes were in session after a two-week holiday break. A police report was taken at 8:57 a.m. the same day.

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