City police investigate break-ins at schools

Preliminary estimate on damage is $24,300

Posted: Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A police investigation is continuing into three burglaries at Juneau schools over the last weekend.

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Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

Break-ins at Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School, Riverbend Elementary School and Mendenhall River Community School left windows damaged after several were pried or smashed open to either get into buildings or into locked classrooms.

Taken from DZ were nine laptop computers; another was found to be missing from the Mendenhall River Community School.

Preliminary estimate on loss and damage is $24,300, said Juneau Superintendent Peggy Cowan.

Cowan said Juneau hasn't had an incident like this in at least a decade.

"We've never had a series of incidents in a single evening like this to my knowledge, but I've only been here 10 years," she said.

Police are still investigating, said Sgt. Dave Campbell, spokesman for the Juneau Police Department.

"We're trying to figure out whether they were related or not at this point," he said.

Among the evidence collected is fingerprints, but that has yet to be analyzed by the state crime lab, he said.

That could possibly tie the crimes together, he said.

Cowan said she's not sure if the break-ins were linked, though the timing suggests they were.

"Two of them were very similar," she said. "The third didn't have the same characteristics."

At the two schools where laptops were taken, the only damage done was to break windows to gain access. At Riverbend it appeared more like vandalism, with fire extinguishers sprayed around and stuff dumped in fish tanks.

"That was the one that was most disruptive," she said.

A digital camera and some small items were taken at Riverbend, but Cowan said that may have been more of an afterthought to a vandalism spree than the intent of the break-in.

The stolen laptops from the other two schools were password protected, and may be useless for anyone outside the school, Cowan said.

Campbell asked that anyone with knowledge of the burglaries call the police at 586-0600 and ask to be connected to the investigations team.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or e-mail patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.



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