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Thieves take 17 MacBooks, other computer equipment at Perkins Elementary in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — They hopped a fence into Perkins Elementary School, broke through a glass door and made off with what police said was more than $19,000 in computer equipment.

Now, authorities are asking for help to identify the two young men who stole a projector, two iMac desktop computers and 17 MacBook computers from the magnet school in about two hours. The break-in happened at about 2:30 a.m. June 15, police said.

"Given the fact that they took so many computers, the dollars lost here is phenomenal," police spokesman Mike Puetz said. "This scale of crime at a school is truly an anomaly."

Campus officials discovered the shattered glass that morning and called police, Puetz said.

Perkins principal Tony Pleshe said the school, which houses a magnet program for music and arts, has about 550 students who regularly use the computers in the classroom.

Although the loss of $19,000 in equipment is certainly a hit, Pleshe said it will not cripple the program. The most affected will be the third-, fourth- and fifth-graders who are given MacBook laptops to carry with them through those three years at the school.

"It's sad that people are stealing from children," he said. "They may think they're taking from the adults, from the school. But really they're stealing from our children."

Police might be able to trace the stolen computers if they are resold, Puetz said.

This was the second reported burglary at a school in as many days. Most break-ins on school property occur either on weekends or during the summer, when it is assumed there is less foot traffic and more relaxed security, Puetz said.

But with security cameras, which more and more schools have begun to use, someone is always watching.

Police used such security video to gain a description of the pair: Black men with average builds likely in their late teens or early twenties, wearing latex gloves and stockings over their heads to conceal their identities. One appeared to have long hair tucked into the stocking.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Ricardo Lopez at (727) 893-4890.

Thieves take 17 MacBooks, other computer equipment at Perkins Elementary in St. Petersburg 06/23/11 [Last modified: Friday, June 24, 2011 9:46am]
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