The Coast News Group
Ocean Knoll Elementary School in Encinitas is the latest to be hit by an unknown number of thieves apparently targeting technology as laptops and tablets. After breaking into a classroom, the thieves didn’t find any gadgets to steal. Photo by Tony Cagala

Theives targeting schools for technology equipment

SOLANA BEACH – Sheriff’s Deputies around North County have responded to a number of burglary alarm activation calls to schools in Encinitas and Solana Beach in the past two months. 

The latest instance occurred at 11:50 p.m. Jan. 13, where an unknown number of thieves broke into a classroom at Ocean Knoll Elementary in Encinitas, but the thieves didn’t find any electronic devices to steal.

“The CATCH team is working this from the more global investigative purposes,” said Jan Caldwell, the public affairs director of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

CATCH is the Computer and Technology Crime High Tech division, a multi-agency team that in part investigates crimes where technology is targeted.

The team includes agencies as the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, County Police Departments and others.

“They’re going out to the school and doing site surveys and talking with the principals,” she said.

All four of the break ins was done in a similar manner and time: the thieves entered a classroom by breaking a window to enter the building and subsequently breaking the locks on cabinets containing the electronics. When deputies arrived to investigate no suspects were found.

Caldwell couldn’t say if more patrols around the schools would be put into effect at the approximate times of previous break ins, and didn’t want to discuss further details due to the ongoing nature of the investigation.

On Dec. 11 deputies responded to a break in at Solana Beach’s Skyline Elementary School where two dozen Apple laptop computers, estimated at $36,000 were stolen from a classroom.

In late December two schools in Encinitas, Ada Harris Elementary and Cardiff Elementary were broken into by thieves targeting iPads.