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Burglars Loot Santa Barbara High Theater Department

Equipment theft may put the school's spring musical on hold.

Thousands of dollars worth of theater equipment was stolen from Santa Barbara High over the weekend, potentially putting on hold the school’s spring musical scheduled to open in two weeks.

Thieves reportedly stole certain stage and audio devices, including microphones, a projector and a power amplifier as recently as Sunday evening, taking an estimated $10,000 to $20,000 worth of equipment.

In January, the school newspaper, The Forge, had more than half of its computer and other high-tech equipment stolen in a break-in at its office.

On Monday, a calm but overwrought Otto Layman, director of Santa Barbara High’s theater department, confirmed the theft, adding that items were stolen from his office as well.

“I’ve had a hard day,” Layman said. The thieves forced open the door to his office and took two computer monitors and a laptop used to run the box office.

The school’s production of Beauty and the Beast is scheduled to open May 9, but the loss of the equipment may stall the musical.

"I’m very angry," he said. "This (equipment) is the stuff we use to work."

Clark Sayre, drama teacher at Dos Pueblos High, said he is willing to lend his school’s gear so the Santa Barbara show can go on.

"We’re definitely willing to loan them whatever they need," Sayre said.

Unfortunately, despite the largesse of the DP theater department, Layman still will have to work hard to get his gear together, as DP’s Sennheiser equipment is incompatible with SBHS’ Audio-Technica system.

The theft comes as SBHS’ theater is raising funds to go to Scotland this August, where they’ve been invited to perform the musical Hair at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This theft, Layman said, set them back about $18,000.

While this break-in and the recent one at the school’s newspaper could raise suspicions that the school is being targeted by a specific party, such as people who might have a grudge against the school or that this crime is something of an inside job, Layman says it’s most likely just thieves after high-end equipment.

To prevent any more thefts of costly equipment, Layman plans to have cameras installed in the theater department to monitor any activity when no one’s there.

"This is a big place, and there’s a police presence, but you can’t be everywhere at the same time," he said.

Anyone who can help the SBHS theater department at this time with donations of money, perhaps loans of equipment or even a venue, is encouraged to call Layman at 805.966.9101, ext. 220.





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