The Coast News Group

Theft at Pacific Trails Middle School puts pressure on construction timeline


CARMEL VALLEY — During a break-in at Pacific Trails Middle School on July 4, major components of a new electrical system were stolen. The equipment had been installed as part of the construction of a new classroom building on the Carmel Valley campus.

Security cameras were scheduled to be installed on July 5, the day after the theft, according to Tina Douglas, associate superintendent of business services for the San Dieguito Union High School District.

The stolen equipment included breakers, panel board interiors, night controls, temporary power cords and boxes, and possibly light fixtures. Douglas said that all the feeders to the breakers were severed.

She said that local law enforcement had no leads but that officials had seen similar robberies in the area. Douglas explained that law-enforcement officials believe that the perpetrators are familiar with electrical systems given the precautions that were taken to avoid electrocution.

Despite what Douglas called “the summer sprint” to get the new classroom building constructed in time for the start of the new school year, she believes that the project will still finish on time.

Interim Superintendent Larry Perondi echoed that thought, noting the district was working on expediting the replacement of the system. “The goal is to be school-ready,” Perondi said.

The district does not typically require security cameras on its construction sites, but the builder’s risk-insurance company asked for them. Due to damage caused during the robbery, the cameras could not be installed until July 9. C.W. Driver is the construction management company for the project, and Baker is the electrical contractor.

The district is still in the process of assessing the total cost of the damage in order to file a claim with the builder’s insurer.

Pacific Trails Middle School is located next to Canyon Crest Academy in the Pacific Highlands Ranch neighborhood of Carmel Valley. The school first opened in 2015 and serves students in grades seven and eight. Its initial enrollment capacity was 500 students, with the plan to expand to accommodate about 1,000 students.