Two Santa Barbara High School graduates were arrested today after they admitted to breaking into their alma mater’s auditorium just hours earlier and making a mess of the place. Halen Bretz, 19, and Luis Najera, 19, were booked into County Jail and each face felony charges of burglary and vandalism.
At 2:52 a.m. Thursday morning, an SBPD officer responded to a report of breaking glass near the high school’s Peabody Stadium, said Lt. James Pfleging. The officer saw Bretz and Najera using a power drill to remove the hinges from a covered snack bar. “While across the field, the officer observed the subjects enter briefly and leave the building,” Pfleging said in a statement. “Prior to sufficient officers arriving to secure the perimeter, the subjects started to leave the area.”
The officer tried to stop the two, but they were able to flee. Crime scene investigators were called in, and they collected numerous pieces of evidence and took note of a broken pipe to the pool filtration system. At around 9 a.m., high school employees conducted a full check of the campus and found “a significant amount of damage to the auditorium, including the use of dry chemical fire extinguishers on the stage curtains, a broken window near the front entrance, and graffiti in the auditorium,” said Pfleging.
School officials identified Bretz and Najera using video surveillance footage. Najera was located at his home, and Bretz was tracked down a short time later. Both were questioned at the police station and admitted to their involvement. They said they tried to get into the school by breaking a front window, but couldn’t, so they broke a back window and then sifted through nearby lockers. After that, they stole power tools and tried to get into the Peabody facilities, Pfleging said.