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Vandals strike

Historic school building damage puts police on alert

LOPD Lt. Harold Rossman points to some graffiti inside one of the Center's locker. Photo by Gabriel Ouzounian (click for larger version)
August 03, 2011 - A piece of Lake Orion history is being defaced, although Lake Orion Police are doing everything they can to prevent the vandalism.

These efforts became evident on July 28, when two juveniles were caught trying to break into the beleaguered Angel (Ehman) Center at 55 W. Elizabeth Road. The building, a two-story, 35,000-square-foot structure, has been the target of increased vandalism since May.

The youngsters were interviewed and released to their parents.

Deborah Moceri, owner of the Center and whose family is known throughout Oakland County as developers of luxury subdivisions, said the police have been an immense help, but that the problem persists.

"The police, Lt.Harold Rossman and Chief Jerry Narsh, have been wonderful," Moceri said. "They're doing everything they can do to figure out who is vandalizing the building. The police have approached the problem fairly. They didn't just ticket people who were going on the land at first, but it started getting malicious so they started ticketing individuals for trespassing."

The vandalism started before she owned the building, consisting mostly of graffiti and breaking windows. In 2011, however, the building experienced its first case of breaking and entering, and it would not be the last time someone entered the building uninvited.

Today, the outside of the building reveals graffiti visible from every side, broken windows - some boarded up - on the exterior, and other damage. The interior has not fallen victim to most of the maliciousness that has accosted the outside, with only an occasional scratch, graffiti inside lockers and notes - usually lacking profanity - on chalkboards.

Moceri is doing everything she can, in conjunction with LOPD, to curb the breaking and entering before it becomes a more severe problem.

"I intermittently go to the building to check on it, h she said. gI go in, make sure no one is in there and generally look around for new damage. I believe the individuals that are entering the building are people who have no place to go. It reinforces the need for that building to be used as a place for these individuals to go. h

Moceri asks the community to keep its eyes and ears out, and contact the Lake Orion police to make them aware of anything unusual.

Vigilant neighbors are just one strategy the LOPD is employing to keep the building free of trespassers. Chief of Police Jerry Narsh understands the reasons behind Moceri's purchase of the building and said he's doing everything in his power to stop the break-ins.

"The story is that people keep vandalizing the building; that's burglary, that's breaking and entering and that's illegal," Narsh said. "From what we've been able to gather evidence-wise, it appears to be young kids. Earlier this year, we arrested five kids for trespassing and those kids are in the process of going through the juvenile criminal process.

Narsh said the department will continue to employ aggressive enforcement of trespassing laws on the building's property, while the owner routinely visits the Center. The police chief knows the laws may sound harsh, but said the two things the LOPD and the Center's owner want to avoid are" people getting hurt and people getting criminal histories at a young age."

The Angel Center began its life in 1927 as Lake Orion High School and, at one point, housed the entire K-12 student population. It was purchased by Moceri in November 2008, for $57,500. While she wishes to keep the figure private, Moceri said the amount she has spent renovating and repairing the building from the delinquency has "far exceeded" what she paid for the building.

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