San Francisco police arrest 3 after alleged break-in at Castro Theatre

  • by Eric Burkett, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday March 30, 2022
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San Francisco police arrested three suspects who allegedly broke into the Castro Theatre and caused significant damage. Photo: Scott Wazlowski
San Francisco police arrested three suspects who allegedly broke into the Castro Theatre and caused significant damage. Photo: Scott Wazlowski

Three men were arrested after breaking into the iconic Castro Theatre early March 29 and allegedly causing extensive damage to equipment inside. The cinema's famous organ, while evidently opened up by the suspects, was not damaged.

Gary Marx, 38; Nicholas Degrego, 25; and Jason Kilbourne, 32, were apprehended inside the 100-year-old cinema after one of them was spotted inside the building by San Francisco Police Department officers on routine patrol around 6:30 a.m.

"The officers also observed broken glass on the front door of the theater, which appeared to be a sign of forced entry," according to a release issued by spokesperson Officer Robert Rueca. "Officers immediately detained the male and called for additional officers to assist them in searching the establishment, which they suspected was just burglarized."

The police soon found the two additional suspects along with tools they allege were used in the break-in. Marx was booked for burglary, while Degrego was booked for burglary and possession of drug paraphernalia. Kilbourne was booked for burglary and parole violation, according to police. The men were taken to San Francisco County Jail where Degrego and Kilbourne were still being held as of press time.

The break-in occurred as the theater is undergoing extensive cleaning and renovation.

"We are deeply saddened and troubled by this," said David Perry, spokesperson for Another Planet Entertainment, which just recently assumed management of the theater.

While unsure of the suspects' motives, they did appear to have "knowledge of the backstage and other public areas," Perry wrote in an email to the Bay Area Reporter.

Damage to the facility included a broken glass door used to enter the space and several internal doors that had just been fitted with new locks. The suspects also allegedly damaged "the projector and related computer equipment, evidently with hammers," Perry said.

In addition to turning on the theater's heating system and lights, "They also tossed around and scattered the letters that are used on the marquee and turned on the popcorn machine and popped popcorn," he added.

The theater's much-loved organ did not escape the suspects' attention.

"They pried open the stage and raised the organ out of the pit," said Perry. "Luckily, the organ was not damaged. However, knowledge of how to access the organ and how to lift it is not something easily done."

The damage throughout the theater was significant and will "be costly to rectify," Perry said. "Luckily, nothing seems to have been permanently damaged."

This is the second time in less than a year that an intruder has damaged the beloved movie palace. Last August, following a standoff with police, Wiliam Quezali, 33, was booked into San Francisco County Jail for three counts of vandalism and trespassing.

He was arrested on suspicion of damaging the iconic neon sign on the facade of the Castro Theatre. A B.A.R. reporter observed the suspect throwing bricks or cinder blocks from the roof of the building, while bystanders on the scene said they saw Quezali kicking off the signage's neon tubing.

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