Thousands of dollars worth of electronics stolen
March 18, 2009 10:23 PM
Thieves ransacked a changing room used by male members of a Filipino cultural performance group on Sunday, leaving with thousands of dollars worth of electronics and forcing the group to adopt stricter guidelines for practices, cast members said.
"We're really still trying to keep our spirits positive," said Jeremy Villaluz, 23-year-old head coordinator for the performance's parent group, the Pilipino American Collegiate Endeavor.
A member of PACE discovered the disheveled scene after a five-minute gap in which the room, Burk Hall 252, was left unoccupied, said 20-year-old participant Tonichi Lorenzana.
It was the first costumed gathering of the 120-person cast, and the day was devoted to taking photos outside and in the room above the men's changing area.
"My friend came up and said, 'Someone stole all of our stuff!" said the two-year veteran of the performance.
About ten cast members fanned out across the campus, asking everyone they could find if they had seen anything suspicious, said Ryan Roa, this year's producer for the annual Pilipino Cultural Night performance. Nobody questioned gave them any helpful information.
"It was upsetting, because I was the one producing the show," said Roa, 21.
A laptop, camcorder, wallet, mp3 player and multiple cell phones were missing after the incident, said University Spokeswoman Ellen Griffin on behalf of the University Police Department.
"It seemed like the people who took the stuff knew exactly where to go," said Villaluz, who has been in PACE since 2006.
Some in the cast said they were suspicious of a group of three to five dark-skinned individuals walking through the building wearing brightly-colored clothing.
"Someone opened the door whom I've never seen before," said Lorenzana, who, as the last one in the dressing room, recalled a tall black man with red streaks in his hair, a brightly-colored jacket and gray acid-washed jeans briefly entering and leaving after seeing him.
"I trust a lot of the cast members," said Kristopher Cruz, another second-year participant who lost his wallet in the event, "I don't think they would do it."
University police, who are still investigating the incident, have noted the presence of "suspicious" people but have not released a description of any suspects, Griffin said. Six people lost property in the theft.
The new policies announced at Monday's PCN meeting included barring non-performers from attending the practices and dividing the practices for different elements of the show. Organizers said they regretted the change, but it was necessary to restore a feeling of security for the cast.
"We're really, really trying to make sure we don't lose that mission," Villaluz said, later adding that members of PCN should be able to attend practice "without feeling like, 'Oh, I gotta watch out, this cat's gonna steal my stuff,' or 'This cat's gonna hurt me.'"
This will be the 37th year for the event, Pilipino Cultural Night, produced by the 41-year-old Pilipino American Collegiate Endeavor, according to the group's MySpace page. The production features an original script, songs and a combination of both modern and cultural dancing that celebrate and showcase Filipino culture.
Anyone with information about the thefts can call the university police tip line at (415) 338-3030.
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