ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - A school for young blind children has been plagued with crime for years, and now school officials are asking for help to fence them in and keep crime out.
The list of crime that's happened at the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired is long. Since January 2011 police have taken seven reports to include burglary, breaking and entering and even vandalism.
The crimes include someone setting the playground teepee classroom on fire, outside lights shot out, taggers leaving graffiti behind, high-tech learning tools stolen and state cars with windows broken out and tires stolen.
Director Patricia Beecher said that is not even the worst of it.
"We have to come out and check the playground as thoroughly as possible," Beecher said. "The small slide out here is where we found matches and cigarettes, and then the pills were in this climbing structure."
They've also found drug needles and a pellet gun.
School officials also said ATV riders have torn up a special vegetation area designed for visually-impaired kids.
"If we had a fence at the beginning we would have been able to avoid many of these issues," Beecher said.
School officials want to fence themselves in with hopes of keeping crime out, but the cost could reach $250,000. The state-funded school said it's tapped out and is already dipping into savings to pay for new enrollments.
So now, the school is asking Albuquerque city councilors and Bernalillo County commissioners for help. While they wait, they hope whoever is doing the damage will stop.
"To picture a 3-year-old child with an impairment and a disability and think about how hurtful it is to take away the ability for that child to learn," Beecher said.
School officials said the children are safe during school hours because there are keypad access doors that limit who can go inside. They add that the majority of the crime that's been reported happened after school hours.
A county commissioner told KRQE News 13 the county and city are working together to see if they can petition the state for more funding for the school.
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