Clay County Elementary School Victim of Vandalism and Theft | News
CLAY COUNTY, Fla. -- Doctors Inlet Elementary School was burglarized over the holiday weekend; three valuable projectors were stolen and five computers were smashed to bits.
The Clay County Sheriff's Office is investigating this crime, the fifth time this school has been hit by thieves and vandals this calendar year.
Losses at the school totaled $10,000. Three portables were broken into by the suspect or suspects. They broke windows to get inside.
In two portables, several cans of soda and bags of candy were poured on the floor. Police say someone took a hammer and smashed a toilet in one of the portables.
"We don't have a lot of funds to replace it; we have budget restraints," said principal Anne Miller. "We really have to work hard to buy the computers, to do fundraising to enhance our classrooms, and then they come and take it all. It's maliciousness, taking hammers to computer screens. It's hard to replace and it hurts children.
"Our teachers have become dependent on technology, we encourage it to enhance the classroom. When you don't have it we have to scramble to find it. We don't have a lot of extra things to put in classrooms."
The projectors are used to put lessons up on the wall and help avoid the expense of making copies of school worksheets and problems.
Some security fencing was added to the school this summer, and other security measures are planned, said Clay School Safety and Security Coordinator Bruce Harvin. "It is frustrating because money we have to spend fixing broken windows and other things could be going to the classroom."
Harvin said it is likely middle-school-age kids involved. They have caught neighborhood kids at the school during off hours before when they weren't supposed to be there.
Harvin said there have been around 20 break-ins at other schools in Clay County this calendar year. The Clay County Sheriff's Office is asking for information anyone might have about this break-in at Doctors Inlet. Police also want the community's help in keeping an eye on their schools.
"We want the community involved. It is against Florida law to be on school grounds during off-hours if you have no business there," said Lt. Kenneth Wagner with the juvenile crime unit of the Clay County Sheriff's Office. "If someone sees someone walking, or parking or anything at a school, reach out to us so we can find out what they are doing at the school."
The juvenile crime unit is responsible for investigating crimes that happen at schools. Harvin said things have gotten a little better with fewer break-ins, but it is still too many. A few years ago losses totaled $113,000 in one calendar year from vandalism and break-ins in Clay County Schools.