By Maria Sawiris and Mark Solter
A week before September 9th, the first day of school, a man broke into Brooklyn Tech and stole $12,000 worth of equipment from the Dean’s Office. An image of the perpetrator was caught on camera and reported on News 12 Brooklyn.
According to Dean Lauren Williams, “The man stole dean radios, computers, iPads, electrical equipment, wires, and even personal items that were stored in the lockers.”
He entered the building through a window on the northwest side. Jennifer Sullivan, AP of Organization, explained when Tech was housing refugees last year during Hurricane Sandy, the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) unlocked that same window to connect Tech to a power generator. Sullivan speculates that the lock may not have been secured correctly.
Sullivan said, “We do have an alarm system that would alert us if there had been a break-in. However, the system really only operates when doors are broken down. It isn’t connected to the windows which is how the perpetrator was able to get into the school.”
The thief broke into the school on two separate occasions within the same week. He broke in at 3 AM on the first night, and at 4:30 AM on the second. The perpetrator picked a week when the school was particularly vulnerable, since most staff members were still on summer vacation.
According to Sullivan, “In the second break-in, the thief pulled a gate from one of the windows back and because it was in the moat [that surrounds the building] no one was able to notice. He crawled through and started clipping away at the cables that secured the deans’ computers. Eventually he got to the first floor where he broke a window in the alumni office conference room.”
Members of the custodial staff, who were on the other side of the building at the time, heard the shattering glass. Upon hearing the noise, they called the police, but the perpetrator heard the commotion and left the building.
The man has been arrested and convicted, but none of the stolen items have been located or returned. School Safety loaned new radios to Tech, and the stolen laptops have been replaced. Approximately 10 radios, valued at $700, were stolen. Unlike the radios, the stolen computers have LowJack GPS trackers in them, so they may still be located. The radios, however, have no tracker and will probably not be found.
News of the break in created unrest amongst the student body.
Hamad Amir ’16 said, “I’m kind of scared that someone was just able to break in like that. It makes me wonder just how reliable the security system is, and I think teachers should think twice about leaving important things here from now on.”
Shirley Fang ’15 said, “I’m disappointed that security was that lax in the school even if it is over the summer. And annoyed that people are now stealing from schools. I mean how desperate can you be to steal from a school that can barely fund it’s own materials?”
Fariya Methila ’14 said that upon hearing the news of the break in she felt that, “The environment at Tech isn’t as safe as it’s supposed to be. There are over five thousand kids in this school and it’s hard to keep track of all of them. If a person can easily break into school, they can easily harm one of the many students here.”
Some students, however, acknowledge that schools can only do so much to prevent theft during the summer.
“I heard he did it when everyone was on vacation, so he probably planned this out very well. There really isn’t that much that Tech could have done to anticipate something like this happening,” said Alanna Rettig ’14. “I do hope new security measures are taken.”