Still without police force, Alto hit again by burglars

ALTO, TX (KTRE) - Another break-in and another day of wondering if no police department is turning the city of Alto into a hot spot for burglars.

"It is a much easier target when you do not have a police department and criminals know that you're going to have to have a first response out of Rusk or even Jacksonville," Alto ISD Superintendent Ray DeSpain, Ed.D. said.

Around 6 a.m. Wednesday the district discovered the vandalism and missing cash at their high school campus.

The district said they aren't sure exactly how the culprits got inside, but this is the second time someone has broken into the high school since the city did away with their police department.

"Obviously whoever has broke in knew the facility, knew the lay of the land because it was almost a carbon copy crime of what had happened earlier in the summer," DeSpain said.

The Cherokee County Sheriff's Office believes whoever got inside the school may be the same people who broke into the Dairy Queen and tried getting inside the Dollar General overnight.

Authorities said a metal pipe was thrown through the restaurant and change was stolen.

In fact, these culprits may be responsible for a rash of July break-ins.

"The sheriff's department is doing all they can, but they were stretched thin already," DeSpain said.

The entire Alto Police Department was furloughed in June to save money.

"Everyone is financially strapped economically, no one knows that better than a school superintendent in the state of Texas," DeSpain said.

However, DeSpain is hoping the city can work together to end or expedite the furlough.  Until then, the sheriff said they're chasing leads, hoping to have the culprits in jail by dark.

The district is considering installing a $60,000 video surveillance system.

"Do you reinstate two teaching positions or do you buy a video surveillance system," DeSpain asked. "It's a very tough situation."

If you know anything about these break-ins, call Cherokee County Crime Stoppers at (903) 683-2272.

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