Students' Instruments Stolen Ahead of Special Disneyland Trip

Devastated students hopes thieves are caught or a generous donor comes forward to help

By Samantha Tata and Kim Baldonado
|  Friday, Oct 18, 2013  |  Updated 10:18 AM PDT
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Two weekends in a row thieves broke into Dexter Middle School in Whittier and stole band instruments. Preparing for a performance at Disneyland, the School band is missing key instruments. Kim Baldonado reports from Whittier for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Oct. 16, 2013.

Kim Baldonado

Two weekends in a row thieves broke into Dexter Middle School in Whittier and stole band instruments. Preparing for a performance at Disneyland, the School band is missing key instruments. Kim Baldonado reports from Whittier for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Oct. 16, 2013.

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Thieves struck a Southern California middle school two weekends in a row, stealing instruments from students who were practicing for a special trip to Disneyland to play for professional musicians.

"I was speechless," said Laura Pradhan, music director at Walter Dexter Middle School in Whittier. "I was disappointed and frustrated that somebody would take advantage of our students’ music education for their own gain."

The students had raised money to go to Disneyland, where they would perform and have critique sessions with professional musicians.

Now, they are short key instruments and the money raised for the trip doesn’t begin to cover the cost to replace them.

"They don't deserve to have to work hard for their fundraiser to better their education and then to have it taken away," Pradhan said.

Students had raised $5,000 before the heist. That money will barely cover replacing a stolen sousaphone.

The thieves went after brass instruments, like sousaphones and tubas, the metals of which are valuable.

Now, Lizet Caldera can only sit and listen as her band mates practice. Hers was among the half a dozen instruments – worth about $10,000 – that were stolen.

"When I saw mine was missing I was like, wow, in shock," student Liz Caldera said.

Anyone with information in the case is urged to call the Whittier Police Department at 562-567-9299, or fill out this online tip report.

Anyone who wishes to donate to the students' fundraiser can do so by visiting the Walter Dexter Middle School website at whittiercity.k12.ca.us/dexter or calling at 562-789-3090.

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