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— Approximately $3,500 to $4,000 - the proceeds of the FFA sausage, bacon and chicken fundraiser - was stolen from the Decatur High School agricultural building over Thanksgiving break, according to police reports.

High school principal Tommy Baker said the money was to be used for FFA activities such as an end-of-the-year trip.

Agricultural teacher Lisa Barrett called the Decatur Police Department on Dec. 1 to report the money missing. She told police that two Decatur State Bank bags containing the fundraising money were missing from her desk.

Barrett said the majority of the money was in personal checks made payable to the Decatur Public Schools. She estimated that $1,000 of the money was in cash. The receipts were also stolen.

Barrett told police she last saw the bank bags in her desk drawer about 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 20 - the day school let out for Thanksgiving break - and found the bags missing at 9 a.m. on Nov. 30 - the day school resumed.

Barrett told police that after she discovered the money missing, students showed her that the rear walk-in door of the building would open, even when it was locked, if it was pulled hard enough. The maintenance department has since installed an additional lock.

Barrett said her desk was not locked, but the door leading to her office inside the building had been locked. Police officer Larry Fiedorowicz found fresh pry marks on the lock and the door frame, indicating the lock had been “jimmied.”

A wide assortment of tools are inside the agricultural building, but Barrett said she didn’t find anything missing.

Barrett told police the school owes the Blue and Gold Meat Company approximately $5,000 for the meat and poultry purchased for the fundraiser.

Customers have already received the meat they ordered because students don’t collect the money until the product is delivered, Baker said on Monday.

The amount of money that is missing could be less than what was initially thought, Baker said. There should be enough money to pay the meat company, but the student’s profits are probably lost, he said.

When the final amount is determined, Barrett will have to come up with the missing money out of her own pocket because she was responsible for leaving the money bags in her desk, according to Baker.

Students may also have to do another fundraiser to get the money needed for their activities, he said.

Police officer Larry Fiedorowicz said the thieves probably took the bank bags for the cash. It is unlikely anyone will to try to cash checks made out to the Decatur school, he said.

It is possible the financial information on the checks could be used to make online purchases from companies that accept electronic checks, police chief Terry Luker said in an e-mail. Those who did write checks to the school or to the Blue and Gold meat company should cancel their checks and keep an eye on their bank accounts, he said.

Baker also asked customers to keep an eye on their bank accounts and let the school know whether or not the checks are cashed. Some checks had already been deposited before the money was stolen, he said.

According to the police reports, there are currently no suspects in the case.

News, Pages 1 on 12/09/2009

Print Headline: FFA funds stolen

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