Hotel interior gets vandalized

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Public safety > Police arrest group of younger teenagers for damage

By Tris DeRoma

The Hilltop House Hotel, closed since March 2013, was broken into and vandalized to the tune of more than $75,000 in damages to the property recently.
Los Alamos police believe the damage was done by groups of teens repeatedly breaking into the building, starting possibly as early as this past spring.
Police were alerted to the situation when realtors from Zia Realty filed a complaint with the Los Alamos Police Department last month.
Wildlife and video cameras were set up in various parts of the building and police were able to identify and arrest 14 suspects damaging and vandalizing the inside of the building. The suspects’ ages are between 12 and 14.
According to police, the teenagers even destroyed a rooftop lighting assembly worth $10,000.
During interviews with the suspects, many of the kids confessed to doing even more damage to the property, which included throwing televisions down staircases, destroying microwave ovens, breaking chairs, shattering mirrors and spray painting graffiti on the interior walls. Other kids admitted to smashing glass doors and scattering key cards all over the floor of the lobby, as well as expelling the contents of the building’s fire extinguishers in the rooms and halls of the building.
According to the Los Alamos National Bank, the owner of the hotel until the recent sale to Texas Capital Partners, damage to the property is estimated to be $75,547.04.
“The representative for the bank indicated that if there is to be a civil suit filed in the future it will be filed by the insurance company with who the bank filed their claim,” read a statement in the police report.
While some of the suspects readily confessed to their crimes, parents of some others told police they or their kids would no longer be talking to police about their alleged roles in the incident. At least some of the parents have hired lawyers who have also recommended to the suspects that they not to talk to police.
During one interview, a suspect said he was there during the vandalism but told the police he didn’t do anything.
The officer however, continued to question the suspect.
When things got tough for the young man, his mother abruptly stopped the interrogation.
“While continuing the interview, (suspect) began to cry, and after I (the police officer) explained to him that I did not believe that a group of boys who entered the hotel three times to explore would refrain from participating in the destruction of property, his mother stated that the interview was over,” said a police officer in the report. “I did not proceed any further with questioning. However, (the suspect’s mother) defended her son by saying that she looked into his eyes and believed what he was saying.”
According to the same police officer’s report, the mother called him “biased” and that she had “several books for me to read.”
So far, 13 of the suspects have been charged with criminal trespass, as well as criminal damage to property.
This is the second major vandalism case LAPD has investigated in the past month. The interior of the former Black Hole building on Arkansas Avenue was also vandalized in recent months.
It is unknown if the two cases are related.