Students of Wedgwood Academy returning from holiday break on Tuesday will notice ongoing repairs from burglaries over the past month that resulted in the theft of computer equipment and medications, including Ritalin.
Rachel Wittich, director, said Monday that the burglaries began Dec. 9; the latest was reported Sunday.
The school for 85 special needs children, 4833 Selkirk Drive, leases space in the youth annex of nearby Southcliff Baptist Church. Security measures, including patrols by a private company, have been stepped up. Police, according to reports, are investigating.
Wittich said the burglars "struck four total times — three to the school and then last night they went to the main church building."
"It’s crazy. It’s awful," she added. "And we’re just scared about when they’re coming back and what they’ll take next.
"I mean, what kind of people steals from a special needs school and then turns around and does it to a church?"
Wittich said surveillance images show what appear to be the same five burglars breaking into the school on Dec. 9, New Year’s Day, late afternoon Saturday and then the church overnight Sunday.
On Dec. 9, the burglars were in the building only 40 minutes, but they made off with all the medication that was stored for the students, including Ritalin, which is used to treat students with attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity.
On the street, however, this drug "has a high potential for abuse" and "produces many of the same effects as cocaine or the amphetamines," according to a fact sheet from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
"They got a lot of it," Wittich said.
On the New Year’s Day break-in, "it appeared they were in the building at least four hours or longer," according to a police report.
The burglars took laptops and iPads used by the students, Wittich said
In the burglary reported Sunday, they stole six microphones and a TV from the church, according to a police report.
The burglars break windows and bash in doors, and the strength needed to do that scares Wittich.
"I’ve seen the destruction they’re capable of and I’m tried of being scared," she said. "I want my sense of security back. I want to know I won’t walk in on someone who is that strong.
"This is supposed to be a safe place for children."
-- Bill Miller