The Anchorage office of the Chugach School District has been hit for the third time in four months by thefts that could cost the district up to $70,000 in damages and stolen property.
Ryan Schmidt, the facility and technology manager for the office, said Thursday that tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of copper pipes, laptops, cameras and iPads have ben taken. In addition, those responsible have caused additional thousands in damages to windows, doors, and more.
“The first time he, or they, came in and stole copper pipes” which cost $25,000 to repair and replace, Schmidt said. Police records show that theft occurred Sept. 16.
The second break-in came on Oct. 15, when Schmidt said thieves took off with about $15,000 in MacBook Pro laptops, iPads, and other technology. They also broke windows during the burglary, causing an additional $2,000 in damage, he said.
“I’m angry," Schmidt said. "Those computers were going to Tatitlek. It’s for the kids, and these guys ... I don’t know what they’re doing, if they’re selling it, I don’t know.”
Schmidt said after the first two burglaries the office installed a security system, capturing an image of a suspect during a third break-in Friday, Jan. 17.
During that break-in, the thief damaged three doors attempting to break in and stole several cameras and an iPad.
“He knows what he’s doing,” Schmidt said. “He walked around three or four times to case the place, real nonchalant and relaxed … we got him on video for probably 10 minutes trying to get in.”
Schmidt said the office is currently under construction, and the security camera footage showed that thief “knew his way around the office.”
“He was only in there for a few minutes before the alarm sounded,” Schmidt said. “The last burglary, he came in through the new part (of the building) and went right into the old part, so he seemed know where to go.”
The office, serving as the Anchorage base for the school district that serves communities around the Prince William Sound, has a staff of about 20 people, Schmidt said. No one working at the building recognized the man in the security footage.
Schmidt said after each robbery he’s filed reports with Anchorage police. He said officers told him Friday, after the third break in, that there were “no leads” on the robberies.
APD spokesperson Jennifer Castro wrote in an email Thursday that the three incidents “are not believed to be connected … but rather there’s been a history of burglaries at this building over the past few months.”
Castro said the suspect in Friday’s break-in is described as a man, in either his teens or early twenties, standing about 5 feet, 6 inches tall with an average build.
“He was wearing a gray hooded winter jacket with the hood over his head and a black baseball cap underneath,” Castro wrote. He was also wearing a black backpack.