Police Interviewing People Of Interest In Recent School Thefts

By: Parrish Alleman Email
By: Parrish Alleman Email

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UPDATE: Thursday, September 13, 2012

Wichita teachers and school staff are being warned to keep their valuables locked up during the school day.

In the past two and a half weeks, five east Wichita elementary schools have been hit by thieves. They’re stealing employee's personal belongings right out of the classroom.

The latest target is Jackson Elementary. Thieves walked into the school yesterday afternoon and stole at least one teacher's personal belongings. The director of safety services says whoever is behind this knows the best time to come and exactly where to look.

Right after the last bell rings, Wichita elementary school teachers are busy helping kids get home safely.

"They know that's when teachers are gathering kids, walking them out to the bus and taking them to the area where they can walk home,” USD 259 Executive Director of Safety Services, Debbie McKenna said.

That's when McKenna says thieves are striking, slipping into empty classrooms, going through teachers' purses, and walking out with their money and credit cards.

"Once they find what they're looking for they get it and go,” McKenna said.

In just two and a half weeks thieves have hit Minneha, Spaght, L'Ouveture, Beech, and Jackson elementary schools. They're stealing from up to three classrooms at a time.

"What we need are teachers and staff members in the school to lock up their belongings. Many times in the school setting you feel safe, you feel comfortable and you put something out of sight but that doesn't mean that it is locked up and safe,” McKenna said.

McKenna says everyone inside the schools needs to be more vigilant about looking for adults without visitors badges. She says it can be difficult when there are so many parents and other visitors going in and out of the school.

"Unfortunately the people who do this kind of thing don't wear signs that say 'hey it's me' so they do blend in very well and they're very quick and they know the places to look,” McKenna said.

The school district is working with Wichita police to find the thieves. Until then, she says the best thing for teachers and school staff to do is be alert and keep their belongings locked away.

One of the school's surveillance cameras caught two women on camera that McKenna says could be connected. Wichita police tell us they found and interviewed those women and for now they're calling them persons of interest but not suspects.

UPDATE: Thursday, September 13, 2012

Wichita Police and USD 259 security officers are interviewing two women as "people of interest" in connection to recent thefts at local schools.

The most recent incident happened Wednesday at Jackson Elementary.

In a message from Superintendent John Allison to principals Allison wrote, "the suspects stole staff member’s purses, billfolds, and other personal possessions while staff were supervising students exiting the building at the end of the day. Unfortunately, the thieves chose opportunities to steal when rooms were open and vacant and there was a lot of activity elsewhere. These incidences are not isolated."

Surveillance video has been turned over to Wichita Police.

Police have identified the women in the video. Officers are questioning the women about the incidents. No arrests have been made.

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