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Vandals target two Midway schools

$21,887 in technology damaged, $2,300 stolen

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POSTED: January 11, 2012 10:55 a.m.
Lewis Levine/

At both schools, the vandals reportedly gained entry by prying grates off the air-conditioning vents and climbing in.

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The Liberty County Sheriff’s Office and the Liberty County School System are working together to find the person — or people — responsible for vandalizing two schools and damaging $21,887 worth of technology gear in Midway over the weekend.

The vandals also made off with about $2,300 in technology equipment, said Jason Rogers, LCSS assistant superintendent for administrative services.

"We do have some missing stuff, but this was more destruction than theft — lots of broken glass, lots of spray paint, graffiti, dumping stuff out, making a mess, basically, at both schools," Superintendent Judy Scherer said. "I can tell you that it pretty much looked like a wreck. The destruction was pretty extensive."

According to a statement released by Sheriff Steve Sikes, the suspects forced entry into Liberty Elementary School and Midway Middle School sometime between 8 p.m. Sunday and 6 a.m. Monday. They damaged office equipment, numerous doors and windows in several classrooms and one kitchen.

At both schools, the vandals gained entry by prying grates off the air-conditioning vents and climbing in, Rogers said. He received a call about the damage at about 6:45 a.m. Monday, and he believes that food service personnel were the ones who discovered the disheveled scene.

"Apparently these people had a heyday just breaking stuff," Scherer added. "We’ve had (a few instances of vandalism before), but nothing anything like this that I remember."

Three iPads, two digital video cameras and one laptop are among the items missing, but other items, such as a Smartboard and Flip camera, also were damaged.

"We are currently in the process of testing all of the other equipment to determine if it can be repaired or if it will have to be replaced," Rogers said, adding that administrators also were in the process Tuesday of procuring estimates for window replacements and compiling information to submit to the insurance company, which is anticipated to cover the costs related to the incident.

Twenty-one rooms were affected. At the elementary school, one room reportedly was in complete upheaval. Files had been strewn about and computer monitors were busted. The vandals also targeted a break room, where they busted a soda machine and several light bulbs.

When students at Liberty Elementary and Midway Middle reported for class Monday, some were ushered into the cafeterias to be held until the classrooms were cleaned and processed for evidence.

But, Rogers added, most classes were back in session by 10 a.m., and breakfast was served on a modi-
fied schedule. By lunchtime, school was back on track at both campuses.

The Midway Police Department and the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office both responded to the scene around 6 a.m., where papers and files had been tossed around, and a television and a printer were broken.

While Scherer and Rogers said both schools have security measures in effect, the topic has been discussed at prior board meetings.

During a July meeting, the board approved the installation of a keyless-entry security system at Bradwell Institute with the intention to pilot the system and evaluate its effectiveness. The system is in the process of installation now, Scherer said.

"That’s what we’d eventually like to have at all of our schools," Scherer said. However, the incident is likely to provoke board discussion on security sooner than anticipated.

LCSO Chief Keith Moran said detectives are working closely with the board of education to obtain an estimate of the damage and identify stolen property and possible suspects.

Anyone with information about the incident should call the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office at 876-4555 or leave an anonymous tip at www.libertyso.com.

Courier correspondent Lewis Levine contributed to this report.

 

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