Administrators deal with student theft

The school year has brought three student searches, including one classroom search for stolen valuable items.

Sophomore Ashly George fell victim when her $300 iPod Touch suddenly disappeared in biology class.

“First I asked two of my friends if they had taken it. When they said no, I told my biology teacher. He shut the door and told the whole class if whoever had it didn’t give it up he would call the cops,” George said.

When nobody fessed up, vice principals Jeff Panek and Mel Green and Student Resource Officer (SRO) Ned Chiodo were called up to perform a bag search.

Sophomore Erna Mahmutovic was in the classroom and was asked to empty her bag and place all the contents onto a desk. One of the vice principals came around to check for the stolen iTouch and to make sure all bags were completely empty.

“I felt mad because I knew I didn’t take it and it wasn’t my fault somebody took that person’s iTouch. I had nothing to do with it and they still searched me. Whoever stole it was pretty immature,” Mahmutovic said.

Administrators have the right to perform searches if they have reasonable suspicion. George feels the search was necessary.

“If somebody has it, they’re not going to give it up unwillingly, unless you find it,” George said.

The thief (name withheld pending legal action) was found. But the thief was not present when the search was conducted, although he is on the class roster.

Principal Doug Wheeler feels that if a student skips class, it gives enough reasonable suspicion.

“We are cracking down. If you don’t want to get searched or accused, don’t put yourself out there,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler believes that theft being an issue goes back to kids carrying around more technology, and having something that someone else wants.

“Don’t bring anything to school, or in public, that you don’t want stolen. Also don’t let people borrow iPods because they may not be responsible,” Wheeler said.

George is willing to forgive but not forget.

“I’m not really angry with him (the thief), it was just more of a surprise. I would ask him why he did it,” George said.

Items stolen from locker rooms have also become an ongoing issue.

Sophomore Olivia Boston is on the girls swim team and keeps many personal items in the locker room. She recently had food stolen and she noticed her combination lock had been unlocked. Other teammates also complained about stolen money, makeup, and they noticed their stuff had been disheveled.

“I told another girl on the swim team and she said that people in ISS were using our locker room as their bathroom,” Boston said.

Boston and a few other swimmers told Wheeler about the disappearances and they made sure to lock up all valuable items.

“I feel like the locker room isn’t a safe place for my things because we’ve gotten a whole bunch of stuff stolen. I thought it was safe at first, I guess not. I’m angry because people shouldn’t be taking stuff that doesn’t belong to them. It’s disrespectful,” Boston said.

Wheeler responded to the complaint by having the locks changed on the locker rooms. But he claims there were no students in ISS on the day of the complaint, and the door of the locker room had been propped open.

“Students think we don’t care; it’s not true. But there’s only so much we can do. We need to balance problem solving between the students and the school,” Wheeler said.

The school is over 40 years old, and there haven’t been many updates to the facility. But Wheeler thinks technology can only go so far.

“There are random searches, metal detectors and cameras in prisons, and crimes still happen,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler believes that theft is not a new problem- that thieves count on lapses in responsibility.

“It angers me when students get things stolen. They don‘t feel safe. They feel violated,” Wheeler said.