A series of high-value thefts over the summer at Proviso East High School has the Cook County Sheriff’s Department investigating a possible burglary ring associated with the school, a sheriff’s spokesperson said.
Marching band instruments worth thousands of dollars and 49 laptops were stolen in two different incidents, according to police reports obtained from the sheriff’s department by Freedom of Information request.
Proviso East High School, at 807 S. 1st Ave., in Proviso Township sits within the sheriff’s police jurisdiction in unincorporated Cook County.
Proviso Township High School District 209 School Board members mentioned the laptop burglary at their annual board retreat in September 2015 when Board President Theresa Kelly identified “theft” at Proviso East as a threat facing the district.
“Our computers are walking out of there,” Kelly said. “It must have been an inside job.”
The Dell Latitude E6330 notebook laptops had been specially approved for purchase by the board for use by summer school students. Although no value was given on the police report, the laptops sell for more than $700 each on Amazon.com. The thefts occurred between July 9-10 overnight. A school staffer told sheriff’s police 48 laptops were removed from in a special locking cart in an unsecured room in the library. Another, single computer was removed from an open area. The library area was under video surveillance, the police report said. Sheriff’s officers visited nearby pawnshops looking for the laptops, the report said, but did not find any.
A few weeks earlier, 14 band instruments, including trumpets, clarinets and saxophones were removed from a locked instrument cage in the band room sometime between June 21-29. Staff told police they found the combination padlock open nearby, and police noted no signs of forced entry. The instruments had a replacement value of $36,000, the report said.
Kelly said the board had no prior knowledge of the instrument theft.
The school district issued the following statement in response to requests for comment:
“We have ensured that any entries that were used or could have been used have been reinforced. The safety of our students and staff is always a priority, and we work hard to make sure all doors (about 130 exterior doors each at Proviso East and Proviso West) are locked and secured. We’re always working to make sure our buildings are secure, that doors are locked, and that people are entering through certain entry points.
“We also hope that if anyone in the community sees or hears anything that could jeopardize the safety of our schools or lead to the theft of items from the schools (which are taxpayer-funded resources that we want to make sure are available for our students), they contact us either directly and through our tips hotlines (Proviso East – (708) 202-1731; Proviso West – (708) 202-6351; PMSA – (708) 338-4188), or contact local law enforcement.
Sheriff’s police still consider the investigation ongoing, said Cook County Sheriff Communications Liaison Janet De La Torre.
“Persons of interest have been identified, but there has been no arrest,” she said.
— Cook County Sheriff investigating $70,000 burglaries at Proviso high school —