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— Thieves broke into the Decatur High School administration office over the weekend, shattering two windows and taking $41 from a safe.

This is the second time in less than a month the school has been burglarized. Between $3,500 and $4,000 in FFA fundraising money was taken from a teacher’s locked office in the high school agricultural building over Thanksgiving break.

Decatur police chief Terry Luker said he suspects the same people are responsible for both thefts.

Custodians discovered the most recent break-in when they returned to school around 5:30 on Monday morning. The thieves first tried to break the window on an office door, but when they found the glass was shatterproof, they gained access to the building by breaking the glass of a break-room window, superintendent LeRoy Ortman said.

The thieves opened the school’s safe - which is actually a fireproof locking file box - with the key they found hanging on the wall. They took $41 in petty cash for the food service department and left behind $9 in change, Ortman said.

“We normally don’t have much cash in here ... but we have to have something to open the cafeteria with in the morning,” he said, explaining that all other money is deposited in the bank at the end of each day.

Ortman said damage is largely to the two windows, but on Monday morning, only a few hours after the break-in was discovered, he didn’t have any estimates on how much it would cost to replace them.

The first theft was discovered on Nov. 30 - the day school resumed after Thanksgivingbreak. Agricultural teacher Lisa Barrett told police that two Decatur State Bank bags containing the proceeds from the FFA Blue and Gold Meat Company fundraiser were missing from her desk.

Most of the $3,500 to $4,000 was in personalchecks, but about $1,000 was in cash, according to police reports. The money was to be used for FFA activities and an end-of-theyear trip, according to high school principal Tommy Baker.

When the theft was discovered, students showed Barrett that the agricultural building’s outside door opened even when locked if it was pulled hard enough. Decatur Police Officer LarryFiedorowicz found evidence that the locked inside door leading to Barrett’s office had been “jimmied.”

Police and school officials are still investigating both incidents.

Those who wrote checks to the Decatur High School or the Blue and Gold Meat Company are asked to keep an eye on their bank accounts and report any suspicious activity to the school.

News, Pages 1 on 12/16/2009

Print Headline: Schools are burglarized second time

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