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Thieves steal thousands in tools, supplies from abandoned school during long-awaited demolition

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BATON ROUGE - Jefferson Terrace Elementary is being torn down. It's fenced off, but the demolition contractor says that didn't stop thieves from breaking in and stealing thousands of dollars worth of his tools and other equipment earlier this week.

Five suspects were arrested, but his valuable items have not yet been found.

Tim Mercer, the president of the Jefferson Terrace Civic Association, says the school board hasn't told him what they plan on doing with the property.

"It hasn't been very secure. People have been jumping the fences," Mercer said.

Mercer says residents can't wait until the school is demolished. He says they've complained, and this isn't the building's first break-in.

"It has been broken into once before. It's just an invite for people to come in," he said.

The civic association president says the school was closed two years ago after another bigger one was built nearby.

The old elementary school is located right next to a neighborhood BREC park, and Mercer says what residents want is to use the school property to expand this recreational facility.

"I think they would love to have something like that," he said.

Playground equipment that hasn't been used in two years still sits at the school, only separated from the park by a fence. Mercer says they don't want just another park but a unique, one-of-a-kind facility.

"They could put special needs playgrounds or something that would be kinda unique for this area because I don't think there's one here," Mercer said.

The demolition of the school is scheduled to be complete this September.

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