Closed Detroit elementary school a target for thieves, vandals

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It's boarded up and abandoned for several years.  The city of Detroit having a tough time keeping vandals out of an old elementary school.

A blockade was put in place to keep people out but it was no match for determined thieves.

"It's just sitting in the neighborhood taking up space," said Orlando Welch. "Of course people are going to go in there and spray graffiti on it, because it's not being utilized."

Welch and others are complaining about crime at Lodge Elementary school, located at the corner of Bennett Street and Lenore on the city's west side. Neighbors say the property, owned by Detroit Public schools, has brought them nothing but trouble since it was vacated in 2010.

"People come in there to grab the scraps of metal," said Ja-nel Harvey who attended the school. "I guess to sell it to other buyers; we see little rodents going in. Lately we've been seeing people throw rocks at the windows, the homeless people to find shelter."

Ja-nel Harvey attended the school, and says her family has used their own time and money trying to maintain the grounds.

"(We) bring the lawnmower, cut the grass, and everything," Harvey said. "As a community we've been trying to clean up."

In an effort to keep the school secure, the windows and doors were reinforced with specialized doors, but we found it wasn't enough to keep the criminals out.

The front doors are secured by metal barriers, but we went around back and found this door wide open.

FOX 2 reported the vandalism to DPS, and the next day, they had the door boarded up. We asked if anything more would be done to secure the door and we're told in a statement from spokesperson Chrystal Wilson, DPS Spokesperson.

"The VPS System that is currently on the building is no longer available to Detroit Public Schools. The plywood is our response to the opening at this time. We will continue to monitor the property."

"This is the time for somebody to come in and buy it and make it a place where children can come," Welch said.

The people who live next to the school hope at the very least, the crime doesn't get any worse.

"They really do need to tear it down there's too many kids in this area," said Teresa Ward.