NEWS from Detroit Public Schools
Office of Public Relations
Contact: Steve Wasko
313-873-4892 or 313-212-5636
Since the beginning of the year, Detroit Public Schools on the eastside of the City – Southeastern High School, and Van Zile and Law Elementary Schools – have been burglarized several times. The break-ins netted thieves about 60 computers valued at over $60,000.
The thieves were breaking a window or forcing open a door to get into the schools. But more awaited them than just quick loot. While inside the building the thieves’ images were recorded by surveillance video cameras. Those tapes were turned over to the Detroit Police Department for a possible match up with photos of individuals already in the criminal justice system. They were also given to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) Police Officers to help identify suspects. However, the real break came in the form of a tip DPS received from a concerned citizen informing them about a man who had forty computers for sale and who lived in the general vicinity of the schools.
DPS went into action and immediately laid out the plans for an operation. The plan was set in motion and at 4:15 a.m., Thursday, June 12, DPS officers spotted something out of sorts. They were patrolling and saw a suspicious vehicle with five occupants near Van Zile School which had recently been burglarized. The officers watched as the vehicle was driven onto the school grounds. They decided to park, wait and observe. One of the suspects got out of the vehicle and attempted to break open a computer cart, which is used to store computers inside the school building and did not belong in the parking lot. The officers knew what was happening and before the thieves could get to the computers, they drove on to the school grounds. A foot chase ensued and the suspects, two adults and three juveniles were arrested. Upon returning to the school grounds, the officers found even more school property that the thieves were intent on stealing.
“It is not unusual for burglars to take valuables from the schools, hide them and then return for them,” said Charles Mitchell, Chief of the Department of Public Safety. ‘When the officers returned to Van Zile, they discovered that earlier the thieves had removed twenty-seven Dell laptop computers from another computer cart. They were lying on the ground and were worth about $28,000. The help of the public and our officers’ know-how, prevented a crime that wastes tax-payers’ money and got 5 criminals off the streets,” Mitchell added.
As the investigation continued, it was learned that the arrested suspects were the individuals on the surveillance video who had burglarized Southeastern and Law Schools. After the arrests search warrants were executed by DPS and DPD at the homes of two of the suspects. Those resulted in the recovery of other DPS property. The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office subsequently issued warrants charging the suspects with multiple burglaries.
For information about DPS enrollment, call 313-873-7098 or visit our website at www.detroitk12.org.
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