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SALT LAKE CITY — Police are looking for two people who broke into the Fear Factory and damaged property during a joy ride in a hearse early Monday morning.
This marks the second time in two weeks burglars have struck the Fear Factory, a haunted house that is closed for the season. Some lighting equipment and air compressors were stolen during the most recent break-in, but the most expensive part was the property damage they did with the hearse, owner Rob Dunfield said.
“They got into it and started it and drove it through an interior fence to get it out of the graveyard," he said. "(They) joy rode it around the parking lot a little bit and then ended up crashing it into the big cement wall of I-15 at the end of their little joy ride."
The burglars spent an hour and a half wandering the property and vandalizing stuff before starting the hearse, Dunfield said. They drove the hearse around in donuts before crashing it, according to a surveillance video.
“This is just speculation, but I think they were just kind of stupid young people with nothing better to do at 2 a.m. who just wanted to go cause some trouble,” Dunfield said. “The way they just kind of walked around and vandalized stuff, there wasn’t a whole lot for them to steal."
There wasn't much for them to take outside because most of Fear Factory's audio and electronics equipment has been stored for the winter. The hearse had been covered with tarps and wooden planks for the off-season.
Detective Veronica Montoya of the Salt Lake City Police Department said this kind of burglary is unusual.
"I would just think it's just a burglary, but the thing that stands out to me is that they spent some time on the property damaging the property," Montoya said. "To have property damaged as well is a little different from a normal business burglary."
Montoya said they hope someone has heard the burglars talking about their break-in to help catch whoever is responsible. Dunfield said he suspects the burglars were random teenagers who thought the property would make an easy target.
“If we catch them we want to let them know they can’t just walk in and get away with it,” he said. “It’s unfortunate and sad some people think that’s a way to entertain themselves.”
They got into it and started it and drove it through an interior fence to get it out of the graveyard.
–Rob Dunfied, owner
He said the burglary occurred at about the same time as the first break-in, which happened late on a Saturday night or early Sunday morning. He isn't sure whether the burglary was done by the same people.
During the first robbery, trespassers broke into a trailer being used to separate the parking lot from the interior area where actors work. The trailer was holding oriental rugs for Dunfield's father's interior design business, and he estimated $10,000 worth of rugs were stolen.
Burglars cut through a chain link fence and cut a bolt lock to access the back of the truck. Because it isn't a part of the property they visit often, Dunfield said it took them four or five days to notice the rugs were stolen.
“Needless to say, they could have come multiple times and seen the trailer was still wide open and nobody had even seen they had stolen anything yet, so maybe they thought it would be a prime place to come back and try breaking in again," Dunfield said.
Before becoming a haunted house Fear Factory was an abandoned cement factory, so he said during the first year they had difficulties with squatters breaking into the premises, but that they haven't had any other problems until recently.
Those who think they have information relevant to the burglary can contact the Salt Lake police at 801-799-3000.
Contributing: Andrew Adams