Three janitors suspected of stealing computers and other electronic equipment from Oakland schools have been arrested on suspicion of possessing stolen property.
Police arrested the first employee Saturday, and the other two today, during an investigation of two burglaries that occurred last week – one Sept. 2 at the district’s human resources department, and the other Sept. 3 at Webster Academy in East Oakland, in which 22 brand new computers were swiped.
District spokesman Troy Flint said he could not release the names of the arrested employees because the district didn’t want to appear that they were holding the suspects up for public humiliation. While that rationale strikes me as odd — it is a matter of public record, after all — what can I do? It’s contract negotiation season. (Our police reporter is working on it…)
Flint said investigators found a large amount of stolen property – computers, VCRs, DVDs, among other electronics – in the suspects’ possession and believe that “it might be part of a larger pattern of theft.”
Note: None of the evidence recovered so far has directly linked the custodians to the Sept. 2 break-in of the district’s human resources department, according to Flint and OUSD Police Chief Art Michel.
If the custodians are convicted of theft, Flint said, “It would be extremely disturbing to learn that employees of this school district were stealing from Oakland Unified and, more importantly, from the children whose lives we’re charged with improving.”
But, he added, “We recognize that the vast majority of our staff are hard-working, law-abiding people. We don’t want the entire staff painted with this brush.”
Teachers: Hopefully this means that some of your missing equipment will start to resurface…