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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday — February 4, 2004


Weekend burglars
rob Carey School

Suspects climbed through
ceilings to access rooms

Express Staff Writer

Approximately $10,000 in cash and electronic equipment was stolen from the Carey School over the weekend after burglars broke through the window of a first-grade classroom and crawled through the building’s ceilings to access the school’s hallways and main office area.

During the course of a traffic stop in Hailey on Tuesday, Feb. 3, Blaine County Sheriff’s Office deputies discovered that the car contained some of the stolen property. By Tuesday afternoon, one person had been arrested, and more arrests were pending.

The suspects stopped Tuesday in Hailey had previously been identified as "persons of interest," said Blaine County Chief Deputy Sheriff Gene Ramsey.

Also, while searching the car, evidence of another burglary surfaced, Ramsey said. The car contained medical bags and a mask from the Carey Quick Response Unit ambulance. The car contained a laptop computer, computer projector, one digital camera and several pairs of sneakers that were all reported stolen from the Carey School, Ramsey said.

Police combed the Carey School on Monday looking for clues about what was stolen and who might have committed the crime.

Meanwhile, maintenance crews quickly repaired the damage that had been inflicted, and it was business as usual for the Carey School’s 248 students.

About $2,500 in cash was stolen from the school’s main office area, where it was kept in a locked cabinet, said Carey School Principal John Peck. A Dell laptop computer with an estimated value of $1,500 and two digital cameras—a four-year-old Sony and a Cannon estimated at $350—were stolen from Peck’s office.

A $4,500 computer projector was also stolen. Three soda machines were destroyed to access the dollar bills that might have been tucked inside.

But the perpetrators didn’t stop there.

Peck said nine pairs of "old stinky" gym shoes ranging between size 9.5 and 11 and three or four pairs of "old dirty" gym shorts were stolen from a junior high locker room.

Peck said he discovered the crime scene on Sunday, Feb. 1, at about 7:45 a.m. when he was going to the office to do a little work. The crime is believed to have occurred between 10 p.m. Saturday and 7:45 a.m. Sunday.

"I came in the office and the ceiling tile was broken out, and all the stuff was thrown out of my desk and thrown all over," Peck said.

Police investigating the crime discovered several sets of fingerprints on tools that were used to tear out parts of the ceiling and to beat open soda machines, Ramsey said. In one corner of the main office, where part of a sheetrock ceiling had been pried away with a hammer, the hammer was left stuck in the drywall.

Multiple sets of fingerprints and other evidence were sent to the Idaho State Police Crime Lab for analysis, Ramsey said.

The suspects appear to have accessed different parts of the school by climbing into hanging ceilings and over the tops of walls. In most cases that involved moving ceiling tiles in the school’s drop ceiling, but, in one case, a drywall ceiling was destroyed. The procedure also appeared to have been a little dangerous.

"There was a large hole in the ceiling where it looks like one of the suspects fell through," Ramsey said.

A drill, hammer and pry bar used on the soda machines were left in the school’s hallway. The tools belonged to the school and were kept in a hallway closet.

Peck said that after accessing the office area, the suspects appear to have walked out one of the school’s doorways, which could have been unlocked from the inside. The school does not have a security alarm or surveillance cameras, he said.

Authorities are unsure about who might have committed the crime, but it is probably the work of more than one person, Ramsey said.

What’s more, this is just the latest and most severe crime committed at the Carey School this school year. Last fall, someone defecated on the school’s front steps. In another incident, dead rabbits were left on the same steps.

Peck said the crime would "absolutely" change the way the school thinks about security.

"By all means, there won’t be any money left around that’s not in the safe or anywhere they can get at it," he said.

But that is not to say that the money that was stolen was sitting on countertops.

"It was all locked," Peck said. "They pried open cupboards that are built into the counter in the office. It was all under lock and key."

Prior to the recovery of some of the stolen items Tuesday, Blaine County School District Business Manager Mike Chatterton said the district would have to pay $5,000 of the approximately $10,000 in stolen property and damages. That is the amount of the district’s deductible on its insurance policy, he said.

Ramsey said the driver of the car pulled over Tuesday is not considered a suspect in the crimes. That person gave police permission to search the vehicle, Ramsey said.




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