Thieves steal 13 iPads from Southside High School

Published 5:51 pm Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Police are searching for two individuals who made off with 13 iPads and a laptop computer earlier this month after breaking in to Southside High School.

Dallas County Schools Superintendent Don Willingham said the break-in, which occurred at around 1:30 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 21, involved two suspects who forced their way in to the library through a window before rolling an equipment cart, loaded with 30 iPads and a laptop computer, outside in the middle of a thunderstorm before leaving the cart and 17 iPads in the driving rain overnight.

“We work so hard to get this kind of equipment to students, and it’s just disgusting that something like this has happened,” Willingham said. “When somebody breaks in to your home or place of business you just feel violated, and that’s true in this case as well.”

Sgt. Mike Granthum, with the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, said the laptop computer is equipped with tracking software that can help locate the stolen items if the laptop is powered on.

“The computer that was taken, an HP laptop, had a tracking device,” Granthum said. “We haven’t had any luck with the tracking yet, but once it is turned on, it will send us it’s GPS location and we can find it there.”

Granthum said video footage from inside the school is being cleaned up, and could provide law enforcement with a clearer picture of the criminals’ faces.

Of the 30 iPads that were taken from the school in the cart, 17 were recovered in the cart the next day where it was left near the school’s football stadium.

Southside principal Clarence Jackson said it is still not known how many, if any, of the recovered iPads will work after they sat in the driving rain after being removed from the school.

“A lot of these iPads stayed out all night in the storms,” Jackson said. “So we are still giving them some time to dry out and we’ll see if they will start up again soon.”

More than any monetary losses, Jackson said the idea that people broke into his school is the most troubling aspect of this incident.

“It’s really hard to put into words how this makes us feel out here,” Jackson said. “It’s hard to explain because this is something you don’t even think about when you are in the business of educating student and children.

Jackson said new security measures, including increased nighttime lighting in and around the building have been put in place since the robbery.

Willingham said the iPads had been purchased as part of a school improvement grant, and up to this point the students had only been using math and science apps on the machines in the classroom.

“This won’t affect the lesson plans at Southside,” Willingham said. “They were being used as an additional tool in the classrooms. The students had not had the chance to take them home yet.”

Initial estimates provided by the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department list $100 in damages to the school, $500 for the laptop and $7,480 for the iPads.