They were purchased as an educational tool for Winooski's incoming fifth-graders, but now these iPads have become a target for thieves.
"Pretty brazen, absolutely," Winooski Police Ofc. Ronald Jackson said.
Winooski police released surveillance video showing a white man, believed to be in his late teens to early 20s, entering JFK Elementary Tuesday afternoon. The suspect walks right over to the cart where the iPads were stored, wheels it out of view, busts the padlock with a crowbar and loads 25 tablets into his bag.
"I am very suspicious of the fact that he knew exactly where to go," Jackson said. "He brought a bag that was sufficiently large enough to put all 25 in and leave without causing suspicion."
Police say this is the second theft at the school in four days. Over the weekend someone stole another 25 iPads. Investigators believe the thief knew staffers were readying the devices for the start of the school year, but stopped short of saying it was an inside job.
"He was not aware of the fact that there are numerous cameras throughout the district, and so I think that worked to our benefit," Jackson said.
"It could have been opportunity or it could have been prior knowledge; we don't know yet," said Sean McMannon, the superintendent of Winooski schools.
McMannon says the technology was insured and each tablet was marked as school property. But with summer break coming to an end, what does he say to students?
"The message to students is, you know, sometimes these things happen and as a community we need to make sure that we protect our resources and do the very best that we can to keep everything safe and secure," McMannon said.
The remaining iPads have been moved to a more secure location as police work to identify the thief.
"We hope that this person will recognize what they've done and will return the iPads or that the police will be able to track them down and we'll get them back into our students' hands," McMannon said.
Police say they're trolling Craigslist and other online vendors for suspicious iPad sales. But they say when a thief targets this many tablets, he usually already has a plan to unload them.
Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call Winooski police.
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